Problem Based Learning


There are many different approaches which enable active and self-organised learning. These include Problem Based Learning, Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) and discovery learning which all can be used with groups or individuals. These terms can be considered to be on a continuum as shown in the illustration above.


Problem Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach that turns traditional teaching upside down. Students learn in small groups and are supported by a facilitator, using a structured approach and a specific PBL model. A topic is introduced through scenarios, triggers or problems (Savin-Baden, 2003) which leads to in depth collaborative inquiry. Group members are assigned specific roles. These rotate to helps students develop different aspects of working in groups beyond their development of understanding linked to a specific scenario and topic.

PBL History

PBL was introduced in the 1960s at McMaster University in Canada in Medical Education by Howard Barrows after he realised that students were not engaging deeply in the learning process (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980). Today, PBL is used at many different universities in a number of disciplines and professional areas. For example Maastricht University in the Netherlands has implemented PBL across the university.





CPD Opportunities

Interested in an introductory PBL workshop?

Please get in touch with UTA at

Suggested CPD activities:

Engage with the resources about and reflect on what you have discovered and learnt.

Develop your ideas around by considering actions you can take to enhance your practice.

Consider using a portfolio to capture your reflections and share with others.

flex You might want to consider engaging with these activities and gaining CPD experience or academic credits with the FLEX scheme »

MMU Strategy and Policy

Manchester Met Education Strategy and Learning and Teaching Principles

Principle 1: "We will provide an excellent learning environment and outstanding student experience"

Principle 2:
"MMU provides an innovative, flexible, sustainable, enterprising and internationalised curriculum."