•  
  •  
 

Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional model that assumes the centrality of problems to learning. Research on PBL has focused on student learning, student roles, tutor roles, problem design, and technology use (Hung, Jonassen, & Liu, 2008), but little attention in the PBL literature has been paid to the nature of the problems that provide the focus for PBL. In this paper, we articulate a model for evaluating problem difficulty. Problem difficulty is define in terms of complexity, including breadth of knowledge, attainment level, intricacy of procedures, relational complexity, and problem structuredness including intransparency, heterogeneity of interpretations, interdisciplinarity, dynamicity, or competing alternatives. Based on these characteristics, we identify four classes of problems and then describe three different kinds of problems: decision-making, diagnosis-solution, and policy problems. We then examine the amenability of these classes and problem types as foci for PBL curricula. Finally, we challenge PBL researchers and designers to consider the issue of problem difficulty in articulating PBL curricula.

Share

COinS
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.