Facilitating Problem-Based Learning: Illuminating Perspectives

Facilitating Problem-Based Learning: Illuminating Perspectives

Facilitating Problem-Based Learning: Illuminating Perspectives

Facilitating Problem-Based Learning: Illuminating Perspectives


"The book is written in a lively, engaging, conversational style, without compromising on empirical rigour to substantiate its claims.... All practitioners of problem based learning will benefit from the multipronged perspectives on pbl facilitation contained here."
British Journal of Educational Technology

Interest in problem-based learning continues to flourish worldwide. To date there has been relatively little to help staff to examine the complex issues relating to facilitating the implementation of problem-based learning and the ongoing development of staff, students and the curriculum.

This book explores a broad range of issues about facilitation, in particular: understandings of facilitation that have emerged from the author's recent research and ways of equipping and supporting staff in terrestrial and virtual contexts. It also questions how students are assessed and suggests ways of preventing plagiarism in problem-based learning. It examines what it might mean to be an effective facilitator and suggests ways of designing problem-based curricula that enhance learning.


This book has resulted from a number of challenges and concerns that have emerged from both being a facilitator on various problem-based learning programmes and equipping other tutors to become facilitators. As a lecturer and researcher in higher education and as a consultant to those wishing to implement problem-based learning, I have developed a range of strategies, practices and perspectives about what appears to help and hinder the facilitation of problembased learning.

When I first began using problem-based learning in 1986, it was its impact on students' learning that interested me. While I believed that learning should prompt challenge and change in students' learning and lives, there were times when I felt that problem-based learning prompted too much disjunction and challenge compared with traditional lecture-based forms of learning. It was because of this that I began exploring teachers' and students' experiences of problem-based learning. Although I knew then that facilitation was central to the process of problem-based learning, it was students' stories in which I was interested. Now, 15 years later, it is the impact of problem-based learning on staff that has inspired me to write this book. This is not only because there is relatively little to help staff to implement problem-based learning, but also because there is little support for them both personally and organizationally. Over the last 8 years I have been working with tutors, heads of department and cross-university innovators wishing to implement problem-based learning across a variety of programmes. The challenges I have experienced, in the process of 'facilitating facilitators', have echoed with many staff who have struggled to implement problem-based learning with little organizational support and ambivalent attitudes from colleagues. Having worked with such staff it became apparent that, in the context of moving towards problem-based learning, many of them were becoming increasingly confused about what it meant to be a lecturer in higher education. Initially, I believed that this related specifically to the shift in role from lecturer to facilitator, in the context of problem-based learning, but over time I began to see that it was much more complex than this. What became apparent was that staff were being expected to manage increasingly diverse and ambiguous roles.

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