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Problem-based learning is a pedagogical approach that focuses upon real world problem solving as the primary mechanism for learning. Problem-based learning is known as a student-centric instructional approach. It is oriented around the experience of the students. The learning opportunities are relevant to their lives. Students also exercise control over their own learning by developing goals for the learning session. The process of inviting students to design their learning plan is intended to be motivational. If the students feel like they have control over what they are learning, they are more likely to be engaged and to remain interested throughout the lesson plan.
Problem-based learning is often a collaborative process. Students are teamed with their peers before encountering the problem. The students can then draw upon their different experiences to develop an appropriate approach for dealing with the problem and developing their solution.
Problem-based learning has been criticized by many educators. The primary criticism revolves around the ability of immature students to make decisions about what is important for their learning. Critics worry that students lack the experience and expertise to properly assess what they need to learn. In addition, problem-based learning is very dependent upon the prior knowledge students bring to the lesson. Instructors must be aware of what the students already know in order to build upon that knowledge in an effective manner.