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Problem-Based Learning Structure

The Regional Workshops for Secondary Educators are structured using the problem-based learning (PBL) format. This format models the desired structure for addressing the issues in the educators' classrooms.

  1. Connection: The facilitator, or a guest speaker, will present an introduction to the issues, to provide a personal connection to establish the importance of the problem(s) in the participants' daily lives.
  2. Ideas: By asking a series of questions, the facilitator will lead discussion during which questions for investigation are formulated and plans of action are suggested.
  3. Facts: Working as a group, participants then supply all the facts that they know about the issues. The facilitator will be careful to distinguish between facts and opinions.
  4. Learning Issues: The group establishes questions that need additional research, elaboration, or definition. Some of this research may take the format of learning or lab activities, in addition to more traditional research techniques.
  5. Action Plan: The group then makes plans for how it will find the information needed. Included in this plan is a list of resources that may assist in the investigations.
  6. Revisiting the Problem: Once the independent work is completed, participants reassemble to report on their work.
  7. Product or Performance: Each problem concludes with a product or performance by the group, or by subsets of the group. These may include plans for further action.
  8. Evaluation: The participants evaluate their own performance, their group's performance, and the quality of the problem itself.

The PBL approach prepares students to be productive workers and citizens for the new century, not by overwhelming them with today's facts and theories which soon may be outdated but by showing them how to learn on their own and how to use the information they acquire. PBL works well with all students, making it ideal for use in heterogeneous classrooms. Students are challenged, learn to learn on their own, understand more ideas, develop skills in many academic areas, and enjoy school more.

For more information on PBL, please contact Mansel Nelson, Program Coordinator, at (928) 523-1275 or by email at

Additional information on PBL is available on the web at or


Curriculum | Problem-Based Learning | Other PBL Links


Last updated: November 18, 2004


“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestor, we borrow it from our children”
Native American Proverb