Week 9

What practical structures could we use to implement PBL in our classrooms?

Keebaugh, Darrow, Tan & Jamerson spoke of engaging conversations with students that would get them creating their own questions, and then guiding them through the process of the stages in their research. Choosing a research question that is a current popular issue and that relates to the students’ concerns will help to create interest and engagement. (2009, 122) “…instructors who provided modeling, coaching, task structuring, and relevant feedback or engaged questions, students became increasingly accomplished problem solvers and budding researchers” (118). Chernobilsky, Nagarajan, & Hmelo-Silver also found this to be true. They did a case study with five students and an instructor and discovered that online PBL seemed to help the students evolve and grow as time progressed. The more exposure they had, the better suited to approach the problems individually or in groups. (n.d., 61)

Jones explained the following advantages and disadvantages of the PBL model:


  • Relevantly built around community problems
  • Relevant to real scenarios with a focus on core info.
  • Developing leadership, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills
  • Responsible for own learning
  • Motivation through real world scenarios
  • Deeper understanding
  • Construct new learning around what they already know


  • Replace traditional teacher with facilitator (no role model)
  • Facilitator may feel ineffective
  • Knowledge being acquired less organized
  • Training facilitators is difficult (newer idea in classrooms)
  • Very time consuming to facilitate PBL completely (2006)

There are always advantages and disadvantages to everything we do. When I saw this list I felt that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages easily. It might be because I have more of an open mind to the PBL model, where other traditional style teaching teachers may have a difficult time gaining the concept. They may feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages and may be a little less inclined to try.

Solomon states, “When students understand that their work is ultimately valuable as a real problem that needs solving, or a project that will impact others, they’re motivated to work hard” (2003). By giving them real world issues and having the students report their findings to the appropriate officials in the community they see that their work serves a purpose and that they can make a difference.

“The business world tells us that successful employees, managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the 21st century economy do not only need knowledge and basic skills like the kind taught in school. They also need to know how to learn new knowledge and skills; to acquire, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources; to work in teams; to solve problems and think critically; to manage complex tasks; and to communicate with a variety of others using a variety of media” (Hallermann, Larmer, & Mergendoller, 2011, p 9).

In the end it is up to us to find a way to implement PBL within our schools. “…teachers will need guidance as they adopt new roles, facilitate student inquiry, provide constructive feedback, and apply new types of classroom management strategies. Students, too, will need to be supported as they learn to develop and implement their own strategies for addressing complex problems and for working with diverse others to negotiate solutions in a collaborative manner” (Ertmer & Simons, 2006, p 41).

Chernobilsky, E., Nagarajan, A., & Hmelo-Silver, C. E., (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning

Online: Multiple Perspectives on Collaborative Knowledge Construction. (53-62). Retrieved from http://www.edu-projects.eu/euclides/elibrary/Chernobilsky.pdf

Ertmer, P. A., Simons, K. D. (2006). Jumping the PBL Implementation Hurdle: Supporting the

Efforts of K-12 Teachers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning. 1(1), 40-54

Hallermann, S., Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R., (2011). PBL In The Elementary Grades.

Buck Institute for Education. San Rafael, CA.

Jones, R.W., (2006, August 01). Problem-Based Learning: Description, Advantages,

Disadvantages, Scenarios and Facilitation. Australian Society of Anaesthetists. 34(4). Retrieved from http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Problem-based-learning-description-advantages/188739780.html

Keebaugh, A., Darrow, L., Tan, D., & Jamerson, H. (2009). Scaffolding the Science:

Problem Based Strategies for Teaching Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Methods. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 118-126. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ896251.pdf

Solomon, G. (2003, January 15). Project Based Learning: A Primer. Retrieved from




8 thoughts on “Week 9

  1. That is some good point that you point out about PBL. That is one reason why I would want to do PBL is because it develops leadership, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills and this is what they need in the work force. I also like how they report their findings to an appropriate official. I think students would work harder if they realize that they are going to present to someone else besides their teacher. I also think this is a good skill for them to know for the work place.


    • It brings it all together and authenticates their work. A perfect way to empower our youth and get them ready for any future political issues that arise which are in conflict with their beliefs.


  2. I agree that the advantages of PBL far outweigh the disadvantages; I also believe the more experience students and teachers have with PBL the more effective the learning experiences will be, eliminating or reducing some of the those disadvantages. I have not taught in a traditional classroom for a long time and have spent most of my career in out-of-school time programming so I am much more comfortable with the messy, ill-structured problem, organized chaos that is PBL. It wasn’t easy to make the transition, but the more experienced I became, the easier it was to facilitate PBL units. I enjoy the creativity, flexibility, and collaborative nature of PBL and I also love integrating technology to support students. I think one thing that PBL-resistant teachers should remember is that PBL isn’t necessarily ideal for all content, so integrating its use can start gradually as teachers (and students) build their skills and competency in the process.


    • Mia, you make such an important point (in your reply to Sunshine’s point!). You’re right: PBL “isn’t necessarily idea for all content” … or it least it may be better suited to certain content areas or topics within content areas. I think there is such an automatic feeling of…is it guilt? or pressure? or what?…whenever a trend appears in education that is making a difference. Teachers who WANT to be cutting edge and “with it” in the classroom immediately feel like they should jump aboard; but sometimes, the approach or strategy isn’t really appropriate or the best fit for what they are teaching. And that’s o.k.! Building in PBL units as they are appropriate to a specific chunk of content makes a lot more sense than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and feeling like it’s PBL all-the-way or the teacher has failed to be creative, innovative, and student-centered. What a tricky world education is! 🙂


    • I totally agree! It can be very messy, but life is kind of that way. slow integration is ideal for those new to PBL. It must be nice to be able to incorporate PBL quite frequently when you teach. I too hope more teachers become open-minded about it and start to use this model.


  3. The quote “When students understand that their work is ultimately valuable as a real problem that needs solving, or a project that will impact others, they’re motivated to work hard” reminded me of a sort of PBL attempt I made in my first year of teaching. My class was going to design a roof to cover an outdoor stairwell at the school, we had the time to commit to it, but I had no idea how to plan/assess or orchestrated any type of PBL. And most importantly, the kids were not motivated. They had grown up at that school and over the years had heard so many promises of things being done that never came to fruition that they believed it was a true waste of time. And what do you know, they were right! However, I truly believe, had the school environment been different they would have got behind it wholeheartedly. It’s exciting to know you can make change or be a part of it, especially as a youth.


    • I am sorry to hear about the school environment. Empowering the students with this task would have been great with some backing from local officials or someone who could have made a difference. That would have been awesome to see something come of all of their hard work.


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