Problem Based Learning


Getting started with PBL

  • If you are new to PBL, it will also be useful to do further reading, discuss with colleagues who are more experienced PBL practitioners, read up on related research and experience PBL as a learner.
  • If you have decided to use PBL in your teaching, it will be important to introduce PBL to the students before starting using it with them. An introductory PBL workshop as well as related resources and the opportunity to answer any questions in an outside the classroom will be useful.
  • As PBL is driven by the learner, it is important to make this clear from the outset to your students but also acknowledge that you own role is different. PBL can only work if students actively contribute and engage in the learning process and are committed to their group and you are there to support this process.
  • Consider introducing PBL as a way to conduct group work linked to one of your units. Creating a PBL activity around a specific threshold concept might be a good starting point. Use authentic scenarios were possible or construct them. Let PBL groups define their learning outcomes.
  • PBL can be combined with other learning and teaching approaches and some input sessions despite the fact that in the original form PBL was exclusively practised via PBL activities. If you decide to have some input sessions, remember that the PBL sessions need to come first and students should be given time to work together in groups, in and or outside the classroom to work on the scenario, before the input session. Consider inviting a colleague into the classroom to engage in a conversation with your students that will be linked to the scenarios the PBL groups will be working on. You could also connect remotely with a colleague from another institution or an employer using Skype for example or other technologies.
  • It will be important that students have full access to resources and appropriate study spaces for group work.
  • Keep the groups of a manageable size and remember smaller groups work better together. Four to six students are recommended per group. Providing time for group members to get to know each other before learning together will be really important and increase commitment and motivation.

    For practical tips and advice on groups download Making Groups Work by Dr Jenny Moon

PBL is not an easy option, for students or the teacher. It requires a lot of careful planning and facilitation but also resources and appropriate space.

Challenges using PBL

  • Resource intensive
  • It can be stressful for staff and students
  • Time intensive (Des Marchais, 1993)
  • Covering less curriculum content 80% (Albanese and Mitchell, 1993)
  • Scenarios might be too ill-structured: students disorientated (McLoughlin & Oliver, online)

Make sure that you have what you need and if you need help, please get in touch with UTA and speak to colleagues in your faculty.





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."