Instructional design/Spotting PBL/Summary

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As you leave SPOTTING PBL

Lesson Summary

This experience pushed you to judge and share one example of PBL curricula that includes all three essential features of PBL: authentic problem, problem-solving, and tutorial groups. Hopefully, you will use this experience to learn more about appropriate authentic problems that you can use to launch PBL experiences.

Review the key takeaways of the three essential features of PBL:

  • authentic problem: Students are immersed in a problem that is relevant to them and is open-ended meaning there is not 1 correct answer. Students have stake in the problem and it serves a a real purpose.
  • tutor groups: The instructor guides the students through the experience serving as a support and not an expert. Students work in teams engaging in the problem from a variety of perspectives.
  • problem-solving: Students engage in critical thinking and problem-solving to ask questions, discuss, hypothesize and generate ideas and possible solutions.

You have successfully completed this lesson if you are able to:

  • Describe the three essential features of PBL in your own words.
  • Identify the specific features of PBL that are used in real world examples.
  • Identify examples of PBL with 90% accuracy as determined by multiple-select questions.
Spot PBL
I hope you had fun SPOTTING PBL!

For Further Information

Anderson, G. (2014). What is pbl? [Video]. Access on YouTube at

Barrows, H. S. (1988). The tutorial process. Springfield: Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Boud, D. (1985). PBL in perspective. In D. J. Boud (Eds.), PBL in Education for the Professions, (pp. 13). Sydney: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.

Blumenfeld, P. C., Soloway, E., Marx, R. W., Krajcik, J. S., Guzdial, M., & Palinscar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist, 26, 3(4), 369-398.

Boud, D., & Feletti, G. (1998). The challenge of problem-based learning. London: Kogan Page.

Duch, B. J., Groh, S. E., & Allen, D. E. (Eds). (2001). A practical "how to" for teaching undergraduate courses in any disciplines: The power of problem-based learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Honebein, P.C., Duffy, T.M. & Fishman, B.J. (1993). Constructivism and the design of learning environments: Context and authentic activities for learning. In T. Duffy, J. Lowyck, & D. Jonassen (Eds.), Designing environments for constructivist learning. Berlin:Springer-Verlag.

Savery, J.R., & Duffy, T.M. (1995). Problem-based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. In B. Wilson (Ed.), Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design (pp. 135-148). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Savery, J. R. (2006) Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(3). Retrieved from

Torp, L., & Sage, S. (1998). Problems as possibilities: Problem-based learning for K-16 education. Alexandra, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.