Learning Theory Problem Based learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) is "the learning that results from the process of working toward the understanding or resolution of a problem. The problem is encountered first in the learning process" (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980, p. 1). Problem based learning "uses realistic, complex tasks to challenge students to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to successfully complete the task, while giving them the opportunity to practice inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork" (Mastrian et al., 2011, p. 83).

The learning theory that I most identify with is problem based learning. During nursing school, a teacher would present a medical problem and using problem solving techniques I could determine how/ what the most appropriate treatment plan for the patient would be. This included making care plans for patients regarding their specific medical condition. Care plans often utilize multiple ways of treating a patient for the desired outcome.

According to the text, "The main goal of PBL is to have students assume responsibility for their own learning" (Mastrian et al., 2011, p. 84).

Key Characteristics of Problem based learning:

Instructors facilitate, but are not the fountain of knowledge.

Learners are responsible for the decisions and problem solving process

Learning is collaborative.

Technology has improved the way we learn by being able to generate answer quickly and saving time in critical situations. I apply the problem-based learning style by understanding what problem I am presented with and collaborating and finding an answer to the problem. Often this requires utilizing multiple sources in order to make a connection.

As a nurse, I believe the problem based learning is the key to my success. Working in a hospital requires that all members of the team be utilized for the best possible outcome for the patient. Some resources that can be used are, but not limited to, doctors, nurses, techs, respiratory therapists, social workers, physical therapists, and chaplains. Working together is the key to managing complex patients.


Barrows, H. S., & Tamblyn, R. M. (1980). Problem-based learning: An approach to medical education. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Mastrian, Kathleen, McGonigle, Dee, & Mahan. (2011). Integrating technology in nursing education: tools for the knowledge era. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett .


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