I experimented the PROBLEM BASED LEARNING methodology with my older students as part of an Erasmus project I am involved with. I am teacher of English in technical high school and my students study Graphic Design and Communication.

My school

Problem-based learning (PBL), also known as problem-oriented learning (POL), is a form of learning whose characteristic is that learners are to find a solution to an open-ended problem found in trigger material.As a teacher of English, it was quite challenging to think about a topic that could fit into the class curriculum and at the same time comply with the features of the PBL , which has a scientific and pragmatic approach to the "solution" of the problem posed by the driving questions.

Problem-based learning promotes the acquisition of knowledge that can be used flexibly, the development of cross-curricular competences and better problem-solving skills. It involves clarifying terms, defining problem(s), brainstorming, structuring and making hypothesis, learning objectives, independent study and synthesis. Social competence and the ability to work in a team are key qualifications that can be acquired within the framework of this training.
The project " PBL, a real life approach" is a two year project based on the study and practice of this methodology and involves 4 countries: Germany ( the main coordinator) , Italy , Portugal and Croatia.During the project the main goal is to involve all the partners to work collaboratively and share results.

Teaching English in a technical school in Italy involves the teaching of the specific language of the course of study. My course is Graphic and Design Communication, so I thought I could apply the PBL to the field of Arts, and make possible links to literature and history, in the perspective of the graduation exam.

The work started in February 2020 and lasted 8 weeks. This means that part of the work was done in distance, because of Covid 19. The 22 students organized in 5 groups and chose 5 different themes to create their galleries. There was also a student that worked on her own being temporarily at home due to heath problems.

This time was spent in the study and deepening of Art Movements and appreciation of pieces of art, and in the presentation of a main theme guiding their choices.


To share materials and students' work I used MOODLE ( my school LMS) and to check student's work I used Google Docs.


STEP 1 - Introduction

I started with an introduction to the vocabulary of painting with this presentation, to give the students enough words to speak about Art.


PBL implies "real life " tasks. To be effective, the task must have an evident and direct connection with the real world and an explicit significance for the students who are motivated by the challenges they propose.


The PBL method moves from consolidated knowledge to build new content. In short, it is identifying what they already know, what they need to know, and how and where to access new information that may lead to the resolution of the problem .I showed this chart to make students reflect on what they knew already knew about the cultural and historical background of the periods involved, to link art movements to the full picture.


A very important part of the project was giving a " structure" to the students' work, so I created a Google doc for every group where they progressively added the results of their research and choices. To give " rhythm" to the work and check the progress I guided the students with questions , and made them move into different steps.In the following video an example of the in-progress work:

These are the art movements studied. The Themes the different groups chose were: Love, Nature, Suffering, Colors, Urban Landscapes and the Woman.


The role of the teacher in PBL is to facilitate learning by supporting, guiding, and monitoring the learning process. I also provided some resources and prepared some extra materials for the pupils to look at, but they were free to use other resources as well:

Some useful links
A "Compare and Contrast "Chart
FLASHCARD with QUIZLET to talk about WW1


During the first 6 weeks of the project I assessed the work of the students in 3 different ways:

with a SOCRATIVE multiple choice quiz on late 19th century arts
with a class test on vocabulary, their art galleries and their abilities in the description of paintings
with a Checklist for self assessment and Peer assessment. ( This is the checklist created with my Erasmus partners, used in the very first steps of the project). This checklist made students reflect on their roles and contribution to the group work


The production step was completely done in Distance Learning. The students organized with Wattsapp groups and worked from home in collaboration mode. My original idea was to use Augmented reality and had made some tries with Green Screen. I had also shown a particular rendering with EMAZE PRESENTATIONS which has the possibilities to create virtual galleries:

Virtual Art gallery tool

Augmented Reality was abandoned because of the impossibility to work in the distance, so most of the students chose Emaze to create their final product. Only one of the groups created an Art Blog. Here the students works:


The students presented their work through ZOOM conferences and their work was assessed with this rubric on MOODLE:

Maria Laura Mammoli teacher of English at ITTS " A.Volta" Perugia

Created By
Maria Laura Mammoli


Creato con immagini di Ian Williams - "ART" • Helloquence - "Brainstorming over paper" • Felipe Furtado - "untitled image" • Crawford Jolly - "The End is handwritten with spraypaint on a white brick wall shot in black and white."