Fundamental concepts of problem-based learning for the new facilitator.


Problem-based learning (PBL) is a powerful small group learning tool that should be part of the armamentarium of every serious educator. Classic PBL uses ill-structured problems to simulate the conditions that occur in the real environment. Students play an active role and use an iterative process of seeking new information based on identified learning issues, restructuring the information in light of the new knowledge, gathering additional information, and so forth. Faculty play a facilitatory role, not a traditional instructional role, by posing metacognitive questions to students. These questions serve to assist in organizing, generalizing, and evaluating knowledge; to probe for supporting evidence; to explore faulty reasoning; to stimulate discussion of attitudes; and to develop self-directed learning and self-assessment skills. Professional librarians play significant roles in the PBL environment extending from traditional service provider to resource person to educator. Students and faculty usually find the learning experience productive and enjoyable.

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