Academic journal article The Journal of Educational Research

Effects of Problem Based Learning on Students' Critical Thinking Skills, Attitudes towards Learning and Achievement

Academic journal article The Journal of Educational Research

Effects of Problem Based Learning on Students' Critical Thinking Skills, Attitudes towards Learning and Achievement

Article excerpt


It is need of the day that the learners should be prepared in a way that they possess certain basic skills to work in diversified circumstances. A number of educational philosophies provide guidelines essential for the development of human being. Pragmatism and progressivism view human learning as a process of learning by experiencing the real world (Richardson, 2003). Here, 'experiencing' means to solve the problem which one faces in everyday life. In the real life, problems may be structured or ill structured, close or open ended. Following the principles propagated by these philosophies, various strategies and teaching methods have been developed. Problem Based Learning strategy is also propagated by constructivism school of thought which is learner centered and the teacher make the students work themselves and generate new knowledge.

Problem-based learning (PBL) has been defined as a method of inquiry where students solve difficulties, oddities, qualms, and problems in the context of real life (Barell, 2007). Barell further states that it permits students to develop their inquisitiveness and group work and teamwork skills. Norman & Schmidt (2000) defines PBL as "a learning approach that encourages the students to upgrade their motivation level, interest, and is also pleasurable, which resulted from the process of working towards accepting or solving a problem." (722).

PBL was initially designed to address the problems of students' inability to apply knowledge learned and to solve problems in real-world situations (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980; Albanese & Mitchell, 1993; Barrows, 1996). It was theorized that problem-based learning (PBL) can have effect on higher order thinking ability of student which helps them in improving the attitude towards learning as well as increases their academic achievement (Barrows, 1996). However, PBL also helps the students construct their own knowledge about the given topic, while working collaboratively (Etherington, 2011). Hallinger and Bridges (2016, 2) proposed "PBL as an alternative teaching-learning approach that sought to create an active, problem-focused, practice-oriented environment for management education".

In Problem Based pedagogical technique, the thinking and learning processes are driven by problems and relatively a specific thinking skill is 'taught' from the beginning. It is a method that prepares students to face the problems of real world that are unclear and often ill-structured. PBL enhances students' achievement by promoting their skills and capabilities in applying knowledge, by challenging students to solve problems, by encouraging them in practicing higher order thinking skills, and by directing their own learning (Jonassen & Hung, 2012).

Problem-based learning makes a vital shift and emphasis on teaching to an attention on learning. The PBL is a process having the aim at using the strength of genuine problem solving to involve students and develop their learning and motivation. Saeed (2013, 3) mentions many exceptional features that define the PBL methodology:

i. The firsthand knowledge of particular context can be acquired by the context of reliable tasks, issues, and difficulties which are associated with daily life.

ii. The teacher and learner become fellows in teaching learning process, in a PBL course, as they plan, apply and continuously refine their courses.

iii. This technique motivates students to take charge of personal understanding.

iv. The PBL method deals with solid theoretical research on learning.

v. PBL encourages effective reasoning and self-directed learning.

DeGraaff and Kolmos (2003) emphasize that "the didactical principles of PBL encompass all curriculum development elements: objectives, teacher and student learning strategies, choice of content, learning methods, ICT, teachers' roles, organization, culture and assessment" (p.658).

In Pakistan, The National Policy on education (NEP, 2009) specifies that "the curriculum should reveal the major social problems; provide more space for the development of critical thinking, problem solving skills, inquiry habits, self-directed learning abilities, and collaborative work among learners". …

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