Problem-based learning as an advanced instructional design strategy

Problem-based learning (PBL) is the example of an advanced instructional design model that I’ve chosen to present to my peers. Although several of my peers have also selected this model, we each are focusing on different aspects of this model. My focus is on the use of PBL to enhance faculty professional development. There are several reasons I believe it fits the category of an advanced instructional design method.

PBL requires that you start with an ill-defined problem for which there is no one right answer. Unlike most instructional design strategies, students drive the learning process in PBL and are responsible for their own learning, even to the development of their own learning objectives (Hung, 2013). The benefit of this is much deeper learning and development of “soft skills” such as collaboration and critical thinking skills (Duch, Groh, & Allen, 2001).

Additionally, pedagogy is different for instruction than for many instructional methods. Rather than using direct instructional methods, teachers take on the role of a facilitator, guiding students as they direct their own learning and providing resources. Stepping into this new role is difficult for some instructors and requires training and support (Dickie & Jay, 2010; Liu, Wivagg, Geurtz, Lee, & Chang, 2012; Spronken-Smith & Harland, 2009).

While some research exists relating to PBL as a method for training faculty in a professional development setting, it is difficult to sort it out from the myriad of research related to professional development about PBL. This has confounded my research and may present a problem in finding appropriate literature for my report. I have been able to find several reports and of course there is plenty of research about PBL from a general standpoint. The challenge is in finding the right search terms to locate the articles I need.


Dickie, C., & Jay, L. (2010). Innovation in postgraduate teaching: mixed methods to enhance learning and learning about learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(1), 29–43.

Duch, B. J., Groh, S. E., & Allen, D. E. (2001). The Power of Problem-based Learning: A Practical “how To” for Teaching Undergraduate Courses in Any Discipline. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Hung, W. (2013). Problem-Based Learning: A Learning Environment for Enhancing Learning Transfer . In NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION, no. 109, Spring 2006 © Wiley Periodicals, Inc. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION (Vol. 137, pp. 27–38).

Liu, M., Wivagg, J., Geurtz, R., Lee, S.-T., & Chang, H. M. (2012). Examining How Middle School Science Teachers Implement a Multimedia-enriched Problem-based Learning Environment . Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 6(2). doi:10.7771/1541-5015.1348

Spronken-Smith, R., & Harland, T. (2009). Learning to teach with problem-based learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 138–153. doi:10.1177/1469787409104787

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