Innovating Education: The Case for Including Problem-Based Learning at University

The authors propose a diversification of higher education through the inclusion of problem-based learning (PBL) in the curriculum. It looks specifically at restructuring modules, lectures, tutorials and exams to reflect this approach, as well as the creation of entirely student-led PBL courses. These student-led courses can also be used as a way to  credit existing extra-curricular activities.

Published

2015

Education

Authors

Anna Cáceres

Isabel Miao

Damon Dailly

Priyasha Madhavan

Executive Summary

We aim to diversify higher education through the inclusionof problem-basedlearning in the curriculum. Problem-based learning (PBL) “reflects a learner-centred environment that concentrates on students’use of disciplinary concepts, tools, experiences and technologies to answer questions and solve real-world problems.”


This already commonly occurs in the study of Medicine but our proposal seeks to extend this method to other schools. We will look specifically at restructuring modules, lectures, tutorials and exams to reflect this approach,as wellas the creationof entirely student-led PBL courses. These student-led courses can also be used as a way to credit existing extra-curricular activities. We argue for a three-tiered system of implementation: at the first level, adapting existing courses to include PBL elements; at the second level, creating entirely PBL courses by teaching and assessing solely according to PBL methods; and at the third level, introducing the aforementioned student-led PBL courses taking the form of individual and group research projects. The implementation of PBL can be achieved on a sliding scale without necessitating a complete overhaul of existing structures. The proposal shall focus on application at the University of Edinburgh for clarity’s sake. It is also recognized that the suggestions are most applicable for the Scottish higher education system. However, we do argue that with slight alteration, the suggestions can be applied to university programs all over the United Kingdom.This proposal is influenced by a greater desire for students to be in control of their degrees and their own learning.