In this review of the types of learning that can be given in the classroom, but also outside the classroom today we will talk about problem-based learning (ABP). This type of learning is a teaching method in which the student is the protagonist. It will be the child or girl who performs the inquiry process that resolves questions, doubts and uncertainties about complex phenomena in life.

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In this method, knowledge is of the same importance as the acquisition of skills and attitudes. This is a methodology, not an instructional strategy.

Understanding problem-based learning

With this method the student is responsible for their own learning, and the teacher is only a guide. As has been said, problem-based learning is aimed at the search, understanding, assimilation and application of knowledge to solve a problem or answer a question.

When the study of any subject is started, the child does not have enough knowledge and skills that will allow him to solve the problem effectively. It is recommended that at this time each child individually make a list of what he knows about the subject. This means that students use the knowledge they already have, share their knowledge and details of the problem. All this information is what they can use for subsequent resolution.

At this stage, the student needs to know what he needs to advance in the resolution of the proposed issue , as the child progresses will be competent to plan and carry out interventions that will allow him to finally solve the problem properly. Knowledge construction will have been achieved, working in a cooperative manner.

Problem-based learning facilitates interdisciplinarity and the integration of knowledge, crossing the barriers of one’s own fragmented knowledge in different disciplines and subjects.

Problem-based learning and constructivism

Problem-based learning is based on different theoretical currents, particularly constructivism. Three basic principles are followed:

  • Understanding about a reality situation arises from interactions with the environment. Students should be active, independent and problem-solving rather than passive recipients of information.
  • Cognitive conflict when facing each situation stimulates learning. Teachers, who act as a guide, seek to motivate and improve students’ initiative. They are able to learn on their own.
  • Knowledge is developed through the recognition and acceptance of social processes. The different individual interpretations of the same phenomenon are evaluated. Students work in teams to solve problems. They are actively involved in solving the problem, they are the ones who detect their learning needs, research, learn, apply and solve problems.

Problem-based learning includes the development of critical thinking in the teaching and learning process. It is not something additional, it is a constitutive part of such a process.

Emphasize the development of attitudes and skills

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With problem-based learning, different attitudes and skills are developed and emphasized that leads them to the active acquisition of knowledge and not just memorization of content. Students are divided into small groups, six to eight students working collaboratively to solve common problems from analysis.

Students develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills and collaboration. While the problems are identified, hypotheses are formulated, which lead the search for information, conduct experiments and determine the best way to reach the solution. Students enjoy learning by stimulating their creativity.

They also take responsibility in solving problems that are part of reality. The group hierarchies the learning topics according to the diagnosis of their own needs, which in turn generates new learning needs. These needs are not imposed by curriculum development, or teachers, but are born from the approach of a problem to be solved.