Problem Based Learning

Problem based learning (PBL) is a specific model for teaching and learning, that involves have individuals and groups tackle real-world problems as the cornerstone of their educational experience.  In this class we were broken into groups and assigned a real-world problem to investigate and "solve" over the course of the semester.

I am completely sold on the PBL model, and I plan to use it when (if?) I get another job in higher education.  I think it is a great model not just for in-class learning, but also for structuring learning in community service work, student jobs and co-curricular experiences.  Students not only learn about the specific problems they're addressing, they also get to practice a tremendous range of interpersonal and life skills.

This class involved learning about the PBL process by going through it in small groups addressing specific problems.  My group was investigating college access.  In addition to appreciating PBL in general, this class is the best working group experience I have ever had in an academic setting.  I've never been in an academic group that was as productive and fun!   We had the normal conflicts and challenges, but were always able to move forward in positive ways.  Working with that group definitely stands out as a highlight of the CCT experience.

The professor who led our course, Nina Greenwald, wrote the textbook we used, which is a teasury of wonderful PBL resources.