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Problem-based learning (PBL) sees children as active agents in the learning process who need to design, build and tinker to learn.

The approach promotes the use of authentic real-world problems. For example, in maths this may mean planning a trip using public transport; in English it might mean developing a recycling scheme.

In traditional learning children are taught material and then apply it to problems; in PBL, the problem is presented first.

Students should work collaboratively in groups and should be encouraged to take on clearly defined roles.


What does it really look like?
The Problem-Based Learning approach outlines four key steps that children should take when solving a problem:


  1. Identify the Problem - this can be done by the teacher of the students.

  2. Develop a strategy - here the students should work collaboratively with great emphasis on speaking and listening skills.

  3. Implement the plan - the students should test their plan to see if it really can solve the problem.

  4. Evaluate - the students should analyse their results and reflect upon what they could do differently.

Authentic Real-World Problems
It is very important that the problems feel real. They should be relevant to the learner’s life and should develop skills that they can use in the future.

The more authentic problems feel the more children will invest in them. This is because they are more likely to see how it will benefit them, and how they might use the skill outside of the classroom. They are less likely to think that they are learning something simply for the sake of it. 

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