What does that mean?

There are many terms in education for student-centered forms of learning. What is the difference between them? Here are brief summaries of some common jargon floating around the educational landscape today. A link to references (and resources to learn more) can be found on the final slide.

Problem-based Learning

Place-Based Education

Inquiry-Based Learning

Personalized Learning

Experiential Learning

Competency-Based Learning

What is problem-based learning?

  • Problem-based learning is an instructional strategy where students are presented with an “ill-defined” problem. They must develop a plan to solve the problem by applying their knowledge. Good problems are open-ended, authentic, and engaging.

  • Problem-based learning began in medical schools in the 1960s as a way for students to apply what they were learning in medical cases. It has been used more widely in post-secondary education.

  • Problem-based learning and project-based learning have some common traits. They both involve individual and collaborative learning opportunities, may be interdisciplinary, vary in duration based on the project or problem, and involve meaningful, authentic challenges. They require 21st century skills and emphasize student independence and inquiry.

  • There are also differences. Problem-based learning goes through a defined script: presentation of a “messy” problem, a problem statement to define the problem, a knowledge inventory, creation of possible solutions, sharing of findings and solutions to the problem, and evaluation of the implementation plan.

  • In project-based learning students work on a project while gaining new knowledge, and end with a public product. Students control many aspects of the project and how to complete it.

  • Both of these forms of learning engage learners in authentic experiences that require collaboration, critical thinking, and effective communication skills.

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