March 06, 2018
The Pros and Cons of Problem-Based Learning

The Pros and Cons of Problem-Based Learning

Used since the 60s, many educators express concerns about the efficiency of PBL or problem-based learning in certain classroom settings.

Whether you come up with the student-centered pedagogy as a mainstay exercise or one-time activity, convincing students to solve open-ended problems can present its very own pros and cons. Below, we have discussed it in detail for your reference.


pbl StuDocu


Problem-based learning- THE PROS


1. Promotion of deep learning

PBL replaces traditional lectures with facultative mentoring, assistive learning, discussions, and real-life experiences.

This helps in promoting deep learning within the individuals. Thus, students’ knowledge also grows as more and more discussions are made.


2. Developing retention of knowledge in the long term

According to a NCBI literature review on pedagogy, students participating in PBL activities can improve their information retention and recalling ability at one and the same time.

The review states that the sharing of facts and ideas during class discussions can enhance its subsequent retrieval, thereby, making it easier for kids to remember them.

Small group discussions can thus, be particularly beneficial in this aspect, especially the ones in which every student gets his/her chance to speak.


3. Introduction to open-ended questions

Most of the problems introduced in PBL curriculum are open-ended question.

These give room for more and more discussions, data retrieval, and more and more understanding of the subject matter.


4. Improved teamwork and interpersonal skills

Successful completion of PBL challenges hinges firmly on communication and interaction. Meaning, instead of memorizing facts on their own, students get a chance to present them in front of a group, defending and revising them when required.

This helps a lot in building transferable skills based on teamwork and collaboration.


5. Opportunity to apply skills in the real world

Problem-based learning or PBL can help students develop skills that they can apply in real-world scenarios.

The tangible context of the subject matter presented in PBL activities can make the entire learning experience more durable and profound in the long term.


Problem-Based learning StuDocu


Problem-based learning- THE CONS


1. Requires a lot of time and effort for implementation

Good PBL curriculum implementations require a huge amount of time and work on the teachers’ end.

It also requires constant monitoring and recording of the performance of the student(s) throughout the process.


2. Poor performance in theoretical tests

Devoting too much time in PBL activities can create issues when students appear for standardized tests.

This is because they may not have the right breadth of knowledge to achieve high scores in such examination.


3. Integration of multiple disciplines

To make the PBL model a success, multiple disciples have to be integrated so students can understand the different aspects of a situation.

Hence, systematic organization and extensive research are required for proper PBL implementation.


4. Varying degrees of applicability and relevancy

It can be exceptionally difficult to identify a problem that can be tangible enough for students to solve in relevance to the content of their studies. This automatically introduces 2 issues.

One, if it’s easy for students to get distracted from the challenges presented by the problem, they may miss out on pertinent information.

Two, you can swerve off the focus and the purpose of the problem to make students run into abrupt obstacles. Overcoming them may has its benefits, but it can also compromise the initial planning which you did at the beginning of your lessons.


Final word

The effectiveness of PBL differs from individual students and classrooms depending on how significant the pros and cons appear to you.

If you think the pros outweigh the cons, you may go ahead with the plans without any further ado. If not, holding it might seem the better option.


Created by Sudipto Das for LearnPick


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