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Friday, 27 April 2018


Polytechnic Tuanku Sultanah Bahiyah, Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia 


Problem-based learning is a student centered approach that has been implemented in a number of higher educational institutes around the world. Problem-based learning is the program of learning and teaching process which has so many advantages in usage. One of the primary motivating influences of PBL is derived from the fact that problems are based on real-world situations or events. Problem-based learning incorporates innovative teaching and learning methodologies that are relevant and allows students to learn how to analyze the problem given and share classroom knowledge into practice. The educator acts as a facilitator and resource person to whom students can come to for advice or guidance. This paper aims to share experiences in teaching English language class using Problem-based learning method. This paper also has shown that PBL is a promising approach in teaching language and approaches creativity, critical thinking and team working among students. However, the educators using this approach will face multiple challenges when implementing PBL and have to create and adapt effective strategies to successfully mitigate the challenges


Problem-based Learning (PBL) is a student centered, inquiry based approach which has been implemented in various disciplines, such as medicine, engineering and education. Its effectiveness in facilitating student problem-solving and self-directed learning skills has been widely reported in medical education. In PBL small group of students learn collaboratively to solve authentic problems. The problems used in PBL units tend to be intricate, challenging, and unrestricted, involving students in creativity and critical thinking. In PBL students encounter problem before learning as oppose to traditional learning where student will learn the content before attempting to apply the knowledge learned. 

PBL allows students to address challenges and tackles problems using strategies that are encountered in real life. Through self-directed study, creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork, English language learning is strengthened and authentic communication takes place. Within the area of second language learning and teaching,PBL learning aligns with approaches in which students learn the target language by using it, rather than being presented with and then practicing predetermined language structures. 

Students and educator’s role in Problem-based learning differ from the traditional student educator role. In PBL, knowledge building is stimulated by illstructured problem and helps students develop advanced creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving and communication skills. Students assume responsibility for learning and access their own material and adjust strategies for learning. Students do independent self-directed learning before the group discussion and therefore increase their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Educators are facilitators who group students, introduces problems, vocabulary and provide resources. Educators also need to observe students and provide instructional support as needed but do not control the learning. While observing, the educator takes notes and provides students with opportunities to present and share the results of their work, provides follow-up activities based on his/her observation and assesses students’ participation and provide constructive feedback for success of activity. 

Within the field of language learning and teaching, PBL encourages language students in learning how to learn while they also learn language and content in attempting to solve the task given. 

Mathews-Aydinli suggested a few steps that could be followed by language educators:

1. Pre-teach. The educator needs to take effort in making sure that students are aware of the objective and benefits of a problem-based approach for language learning and the significance of using English while carrying out the problem-solving activities. 
2. Introduce problem and vocabulary. The educator may use traditional method or technology to introduce the problem to students. Students also need to have vocabulary related to the problem and teacher can guide by providing pre-reading exercises about the problem. 
3. Group students and provide resources. Educator needs to group students with different language proficiency to ensure that communication takes place in English language. Educator needs to provide traditional and technology related resources to enable students to solve the problem. Educators also should make the student aware that there is no single answer to the problem and that any answer is acceptable providing they are able to justify it. 
4. Observe and support. The educator observes students and provides feedbackas needed, but they do not control the activities and acts as a facilitator by guiding the students. 
5. Follow up and assess progress. Students are given opportunity to present their work and the educator providesfeedback based on his/her observation and assesses students’ participation.

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