New Approaches to Problem-Based Learning: Revitalising Your Practice in Higher Education

New Approaches to Problem-Based Learning: Revitalising Your Practice in Higher Education

New Approaches to Problem-Based Learning: Revitalising Your Practice in Higher Education

New Approaches to Problem-Based Learning: Revitalising Your Practice in Higher Education


Problem-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach that has the capacity to create vibrant and active learning environments in higher education. However, both experienced PBL practitioners and those new to PBL often find themselves looking for guidance on how to engage and energise a PBL curriculum. New Approaches to Problem-based Learning: Revitalising your Practice in Higher Education provides that guidance from a range of different, complementary perspectives.

Leading practitioners in the field as well as new voices in PBL teaching and learning have collaborated to produce this text. Each chapter provides practical and experienced accounts of issues and ideas for PBL, as well as a strong theoretical and evidence base. Whether you are an experienced PBL practitioner, or new to the processes and principles of PBL, this book will help you to find ways of revitalising and enriching your practice and of enhancing the learning experience in a range of higher education contexts.


The painting on the cover of this book is a metaphor for the new shapes, the new contexts, and the creative combinations inherent in the problem-based learning (PBL) approaches that are presented and explored throughout this book. All of these approaches focus on the potential of PBL to revitalise our teaching and learning practice within higher education. For us, “revitalise” is an important word. Everywhere, teachers and students often talk about the experiences of being jaded and of routinisation – the excessive standardisation, and even boredom, that can too easily become a part of the formal learning environments. We believe that all teachers have a right and a responsibility to explore ways of bringing their practice alive.

It was Oscar Wilde who famously said that “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” By focusing more on learning than teaching, by focusing more on experience and process than content and transmission and by focusing on creativity rather than control, we think that practice can be revitalised easily and innovatively. These convictions regarding practice are the values that underpin this book.

If we are focusing on learning, not teaching, then we need to reinvent, to be responsive, to hear and to see well and clearly, and to make sure that we are not getting stuck in routines. We need to give our students a rich, fertile, challenging, dynamic learning experience and we need to learn from them and from each other how we can do this, in order to re-energise ourselves as teachers and to refresh the learning experience for students.

The painting on the cover of the book by Fiona Ahern is entitled That Childhood Country. Can we bring some of the curiosity, questioning, creativity, colour and sense of playfulness of childhood into learning in higher education through problem-based learning?

We invite you to get immersed in and explore the ideas and the insights contained in this book. We are delighted to present to you a range of different but interconnected voices all focusing on the huge potential that PBL learning environments can realise. We are proud that so many new and established voices have come together to share their practice by contributing to this book, and we hope it will be used in a whole range of ways as a valuable resource for educators everywhere.

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