Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Problem-based Learning - A Collection of Resources

21st Century Pedagogies

Problem-based Learning is both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and designed problems that demand acquisition of critical knowledge from the learner, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills. The process replicates the commonly used systemic approach to resolving problems or meeting challenges that are encountered in life and career.


  • Deborah Allen
    Associate Professor of Biology
    University of Delaware

Essays, Stories & Reports:

Resources from other sources:

  • Problem-based Learning, Samford University
    "The Center for Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and corresponding Web site was established in 1998 in conjunction with two grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Since that time, Samford took on the challenge to not only incorporate PBL into various undergraduate programs within the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Nursing and Pharmacy, but also to document best models of PBL practice in course portfolios."

  • University of Delaware- Problem-based Learning
    "Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources."

  • Problem-based Learning: PBL Portal
    "Problem-based learning is a both a pedagogical approach and a curriculum design methodology, simultaneously develops higher order thinking and disciplinary knowledge bases and skills, places students in the active role of problem solvers (practitioners) and confronts students with a real-world situation."

  • Problem-based Learning @ Maricopa
    "Problem-based learning (PBL) is a total approach to education. As defined by Dr. Howard Barrows and Ann Kelson of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, PBL is both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and designed problems that demand from the learner acquisition of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills."

  • Problem Writing Casebook
    "The role of "problems" in problem-based learning is largely to serve as a stimulus or focus for students to direct their learning. Much debate rages over the definition of "objectives". Although such arguments can be useful, it is sometimes more effective to be slightly more pragmatic."

  • Problem-based learning: An introduction
    "[P]roblem-based learning (PBL) ends up orienting students toward meaning-making over fact-collecting. They learn via contextualized problem sets and situations. Because of that, and all that goes with that, namely the dynamics of group work and independent investigation, they achieve higher levels of comprehension, develop more learning and knowledge-forming skills and more social skills as well."

  • Stanford University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    "Our Mission is to engage graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and industry practitioners in multi-disciplinary, collaborative, geographically distributed PBL activities. PBL is a process of teaching and learning that focuses on problem based, project centered activities that produce a product for a client."

  • LifeLines Online: Accessible Investigative Case-Based Biology for Community Colleges
    "The LifeLines OnLine Project supports faculty from two year colleges in developing case-based teaching materials that are investigative and utilize their students' prior knowledge and current interests in real world problems."

  • Problem-based Learning, Especially in the Context of Large Classes
    "Problem-based Learning: PBL is any learning environment in which the problem drives the learning. That is, before students learn some knowledge they are given a problem. The problem is posed so that the students discover that they need to learn some new knowledge before they can solve the problem."

  • The power of problem-based learning: A practical how to for teaching undergraduate courses in any discipline

  • Thinking toward solutions: Problem-based learning activities for general biology

  • Problem-based learning for math and science