Problem-based learning: the seven steps

Step 1

Clarification of terms and concepts that are not easily understood.

Step 2

Define the problem/subproblems.

What phenomena or occurrences does the group want to study? Prior to step 3, the group chooses the problem or problems it wants to study.

Step 3

Brainstorm the group’s views of and ideas about the problem.

Start with one problem if you have chosen several. Use 5–10 minutes per problem to brainstorm. (Brainstorming: Write down all suggestions, ideas and associations from the group without requiring explanations or critically analysing them.)

Step 4

Categorise and structure the brainstormed ideas.

Analyse the suggestions from the brainstorming session. Find connections, categorise, assess and eliminate irrelevant suggestions.

Step 5

Formulate learning objectives.

Determine what you do not understand or cannot explain. Formulate questions and define what knowledge the group lacks, as determined in the analysis in step 4.

Step 6

Self-study to prepare answers to the formulated learning objects.

Each group member should decide what knowledge he/she needs and how to acquire this knowledge. You may work individually or in groups.

Step 7

Synthesise the newly acquired knowledge

The newly acquired knowledge is then presented to the group and discussed in relation to the problem. The knowledge should allow a deeper examination of the problem and potentially answer the asked questions.

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