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Here the student, besides having to nurse Matthew, would need to care for his girlfriend, possibly his parents, and also may have to deal with the police. : 

Here the student, besides having to nurse Matthew, would need to care for his girlfriend, possibly his parents, and also may have to deal with the police.

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Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a term describing techniques that make students take an active, task-oriented, and self-directed approach to their own learning. It can also provide students with insights into the research process. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a curriculum development and delivery system that recognizes the need to develop problem solving skills as well as the necessity of helping students to acquire necessary knowledge and skills.

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HISTORY PBL became a feature of medical education during the 1960s, and has since been taken up in fields of professional training (e.g. nursing, architecture, engineering). The ‘authentic’ PBL was first systematized by medical educationalists at McMaster University, Ontario , Canada .




IMPORTANCE IN NURSING Prepares nurses to manage changes in health care. Develop lifelong skills to be transferred into the clinical practice. Develop knowledge related competencies. Inquiry based learning. Promotes ethics, partnership, creativity, and group process. Self-directed independent learning.


PRINCIPLES: Problems form the focus. Problems develop problem solving skills. Teachers are facilitators/guides. New information is acquired through self directed learning. Eight to ten participants. Staff set the problems, and students attempt to resolve them. Independence of enquiry.  Curricula content organized around problem not subjects or topics. Problems are ill-structured and interdisciplinary. Students solve the problems by using guidelines to approach problems. Students to meet the tutor weekly or bi-weekly.



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Stages Understanding the Problem ? Do I understand what is being asked of me? What do I know about the problem? What are the issues or components? How would I describe /define this problem? What solutions are possible?

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Learning About the Problem What do we need to know in order to evaluate the possible solutions? Who will collect which information? What resources are available? How can I teach this to my group members? Does everyone in the group understand what I'm teaching?

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Solving the Problem How do I apply my new knowledge to solve the problem? What documentation is required? What similar problems could I solve this way? How will I deliver my solutions?

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Reflecting on the Process What went well? What would I do differently next time? How does this problem relate to others I've experienced? What have I learned that I can apply to the real-world and other problems?


ROLE OF TEACHER IN PBL Problem-Based Learning is student-centered.    This does not mean that the teacher abdicates her authority for making judgments regarding what might be important for students to learn.   The instructor’s role can be to model different kinds of problem- solving strategies.

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The tutor acts as a facilitator and resource person to whom they can come to for advice or guidance. He observes, assesses, channels and challenges the student. The tutor adopts the role of ‘information broker’ during the learning process , responding with guidance as necessary.

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Purposefully connects the learning activities to a larger situation (context) with authentically designing the problem situations. He acts as modeler, negotiator, mediator, evaluator, director, activator and listener.


ROLE OF STUDENT: Engage with problem , Identify what is known and what they don’t know Students must understand they are responsible for research and other activities They have to be active.

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Make self-assessments throughout the process Cooperatively organize and seek information. Compare performance with the peers. Learn how to listen, receive criticism, give accurate feedback and facilitate the self-evaluation. Develop maturity and decision-making skills



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PROBLEM -SOLVING V.S. PBL  Problem- based learning – process to acquire new knowledge on recognition of need to learn. Problem solving- arriving at decisions on prior knowledge and reasoning.

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PBL V.S. PROJECT-BASED LEARNING   The kinds of problems used in PBL are derived from real world examples, are open-ended and often require an inter-disciplinary approach to come up with a solution. Student projects can also be of this kind, but often they are more tightly structured and rely on information that the student has already been given in class and needs to be able to synthesize.

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Can be used in a variety of disciplines, levels and teaching situations, within one course unit or whole degree curriculum. Provide students with insights into the research process. Juxtaposition of individual and collective analytical work, combining team-based exploration and synthesis with individual research and analysis ADVANTAGES:

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Increase skills-levels /multiple perspectives / motivation/knowledge. Flexible learning process, enabling to decide and prioritise. Makes students more goal-oriented, learn from mistakes . Greater use of library, computer resources with higher –order learning. Decreased memorization, more teacher –student interaction.

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Concern has been expressed that PBL is being used as a way of reducing the costs of teaching. Results in poorer performance on traditional tests of subject knowledge. Can be stressful and disorienting. Semi-structured nature of the PBL requires different demands of tutor time and resources, and may well involve extensive preparation. DISADVANTAGES:

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Cannot be used for a bigger class. Valid assessment of the program might be a problem. Changing role of the student/ teacher in the process may pose difficulties. May be too much work for some students /teachers. Passive learners may demand structure.

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PBL Tutorial Process Step 1 – Identify and clarify unfamiliar terms presented in the scenario; scribe lists those that remain unexplained after discussion  Step 2 – Define the problem or problems to be discussed; students may have different views on the issues, but all should be considered; scribe records a list of agreed problems Step 3 – “Brainstorming” session to discuss the problem(s), suggesting possible explanations on basis of prior knowledge; students draw on each other’s knowledge and identify areas of incomplete knowledge; scribe records all discussion Step 4 – Review steps 2 and 3 and arrange explanations into tentative solutions; scribe organises the explanations and restructures if necessary Step 5 – Formulate learning objectives; group reaches consensus on the learning objectives; tutor ensures learning objectives are focused, achievable, comprehensive, and appropriate  Step 6 – Private Study (all students gather information related to each learning objective)  Step 7 – Group shares results of private study (students identify their learning resources and share their results); tutor checks learning and may assess the group.


EXAMPLE OF A PBL PROCEDURE: STAGE 1: DEFINITION (10 mins) Appoint chairperson and notetaker. Discuss first reactions to trigger provided by tutor. What sense does the group make of the trigger? What possible research problems lead from the trigger? List them.

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STAGE 2: ANALYSIS (30 mins) ‘Brainstorm’ these possible research problems. What explanations or interpretations are there in the group about these problems? Which explanation/interpretations seem most useful and why?

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STAGE 3: RESEARCH AIMS (15 mins) What further knowledge does the group need to explore this problem? Define three specific research tasks to be completed. Divide up tasks. Agree on how the group will work together during the week - eg email contact?

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STAGE 4: RESEARCH (Set a limit to time for independent work, eg three hours) Acquire knowledge in relation to research questions Group or individual research over the week, limited to 3 hours Complete task eg preparation of an annotated bibliography of material related to the problem for the other groups.

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STAGE 5: SYNTHESIS (In a second session, usually 1-2 hours long) Review the newly acquired knowledge within the group. Pool findings - do they help an understanding of the research problem? Final group response to the trigger. Reflections on the learning process



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Candela , Lori and Edmunds , Johnna . “An online Doctoral Education Course Using Problem Based Learning”. Journal of Nursing Education . February, 2009. 48(2). Page No. 116 to 119. The number of doctoral nursing programs has greatly increased over past several years. There has also been a shift towards delivering programs online or partially on-line to recover from the shortage in the United States. The article describes semester long problem – based learning activity in an online doctoral course focusing on nurse –educator leadership. The students work as faculty and chairperson in the schools of nursing where they are posted. They try to problem solve the quires of the students they are teaching as an assignment and designed various evaluative strategies. The students and teachers discussed the important issues facing the nursing programs and worked together to determine the sequence and timings of meetings which the topic would be the focus of. Problem based learning helped the students to take authentic approach in developing students in academic settings.

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