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Unique PBL Factors at SIUSOM

The PBL method developed by the PBLI and used at Southern Illinois University (SIU) is "authentic" and has a number of unique factors not found in many PBL approaches.

By definition, authentic learning involves the learner in activities and skills that are valued and used in the real world. This PBL method is authentic as:

  • The problems used are ill-structured messy problems like those the learner will encounter in the real world.
  • The learning process requires the skills expected of learners when they encounter problems in their lives and careers.

These are factors unique to the SIU approach:

  • The development of problem-solving skills is directly addressed in both the design of the problems used and facilitatory skills employed by the tutors.
  • The PBL process is learner-centered at every step. At no time are learners told what they should learn or what resources they should use.
  • A major part of learner assessment in the curriculum is based on self and peer assessment.
  • Formal assessment in the curriculum is based on learner performance in problem solving, self-directed learning, and the extent and depth of knowledge associated with a problem.
  • The performance of students in the PBL curriculum has been compared with that of students in the school's standard curriculum longitudinally over three years. Longitudinal Assessment of SIU Problem-Based Learning.