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Course Design Blueprint

Problem based learning


While structuring learning around defined content ensures students are exposed to the key elements of the curriculum, Problem Based Learning recognises that students’ ability to seek out and apply the theory and practice pertinent to specific situations is also a key skill.  In many more advanced areas of subjects, encompassing a variety of subject specialisms, it is impractical to cover them all to any consistent depth.  By employing problem based learning, students will explore those parts that are relevant to the particular problems they are set, developing skills in independent learning, as well as communication skills where this learning needs to be communicated with their peers.

Problem based learning can take a variety of forms, but essentially it centres around the use of one or more, usually complex and open ended, problems or scenarios as the driver(s) for the students’ learning activities.  Students are usually required to work in groups to seek to resolve the problem over a prolonged period of time.  As the students gain deeper insights into the problem, they each take responsibility for finding and sharing further information to support further resolution.  The tutor provides guidance and signposting for the group, adapting their input to the group’s progress and needs.

In completing the work, students can gain experience of, and develop skills in:
  • Authentic scenarios and problems, often with no single right solution.
  • Prolonged team working and negotiation skills.
  • Research and independent learning skills.
  • Problem solving, employed alongside evaluation and critical thinking.
  • Peer learning and communication.
  • Professional communication and presentation skills.