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Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that aims at cultivating students to be independent problem solvers, self-directed lifelong learners, and team players. In its conceptualization, PBL draws on contemporary human learning theories and educational philosophy, including the information processing model, cognitive theories, the schema theory, situated cognition, metacognition, and constructivist instructional theories. Research has shown that PBL is an effective instructional pedagogy that engages students in active, meaningful learning and results in deeper understanding and longer retention. This entry discusses the components and process of PBL, models of PBL and variations on it, and limitations to PBL.

PBL was conceived in the medical education field in the 1950s. During the 1970s, McMaster University in Canada first systematically implemented its PBL medical curriculum. Since then, PBL ...

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