It is great to be back in a PBL environemnt!! However my journey in understanding and working in PBL hasnt been the smoothest. In my inquiries to understand Problem-Based Learning (PBL), I found this definition in a web site: https://www.learning-theories.com/problem-based-learning-pbl.html, ‘PBL is an instructional method of hands-on, active learning centered on the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems’. But then I wonder, what is a messy real-world problem? I have to say that for me it has been certainly a true challenge to understand and adapt my teaching to PBL. The journey started in my first encounters with PBL in Malmö University, where during my first duties as a tutor I had to lead a group into finding solution to a problem. Not easy at all for someone that has learned ‘the traditional way’ and is used to standing in front of a class lecturing. But it took me some time to realize that the whole idea of PBL is not necessarily to solve the problem, just like Wood in her paper of 2003 describes, but it is to trigger a rationalized learning process starting from a scenario to define learning objectives. it is an independent and self-directed way to learn and acquire new knowledge.
Understanding the role of the tutor was also difficult. At the beginning, it was mainly seen by me as boring, especially if we already have a student-leader in the group that leads the discussion. Many times, I was falling asleep or though it was a waste of time. I shortly understood that as it was not easy for me it hasnt been easy for most of us that have been used to be an information provider, i.e. standing in fromt of an audience and delivering information, to be a facilitator of learning. The same questions that I could find in the paper published by Neville in 1999 arose, as to: what are my exact roles as a tutor, how directive should I be within my PBL group?, and what are those skills that I need in order to be a facilitator. At the beginning, I thought I needed to be only an expert in the matter at stake, typical information-provider thinking, right?
Gratefully, the process is very clear to me now that a good tutor in PBL not only needs to be expert in the subject but it also needs to be an expert in facilitation of processing information.
Regarding PBL, I had also found the question if PBL works in other areas than in medicine really intriguing. It is still to me a matter of surprise that it really does work in other areas other than in medicine, where other problems that are not related to health issues can be solved by problem-based learning and that most of all, the journey that the students take during the process of solving them is that what makes the true difference in their careers.