21st Jan 2010 | 11:11 am | Filed under Uncategorized

PBL – Practice Based Learning/Problem Based Learning What is it? What is not it?
1. Practice Based Learning and Problem Based Learning are not the same, but they do have shared aims and objectives.
2. EuroNetPBL is primarily interested in Practice Based Learning.
Practice Based Learning: a top level definition: Experience of future professional activity carried out in the work place by learners who are normally based in an academic institution.
Learners here are primarily third level students or their Life Long Learning equivalent.
Professional activity is activity that will be pursued by the learners when their programme of study is completed successfully and they are employed in their profession, it is characterised as a holistic pursuit not primarily focussed on one (academic) aspect as would be typical in college. Conversely, Problem Based Learning aims to bring the holistic professional approach to work into the academic/college environment by challenging students with tasks that echo their future professional activity intellectually and organizationally.
The shared aims and objectives are threefold:
1. Enabling learners to experience a normal professional working environment (or a near analogue of it).
2. Expecting learners to apply academic knowledge from several subjects or fields to the task (holistic approach).
3. Enabling learners to improve their life or transferable skills (communication, team-working etc.)
The variables between PracticeBL and ProblemBL relate to details such as: the structure and formalisation of the episode of practice, the location (workplace or college), the duration (short or long), the place within the programme of study, and additional objectives associated with specific professions.

Some activities are clearly Practice Based Learning and enable us to characterise its core requirements. For example: Teaching Practice carried out by student teachers/trainers. [The Practicum of the Bremen cases or the technical teaching practice from Limerick fall into this group.] Activity is done in the future workplace, particular skills are to be demonstrated, specific experience to be gained and a close supervision and assessment is carried out.
If we look at other less clear examples then it’s hard to define the edge of PracticeBL, for example, is the “work experience” undertaken by many second level students PracticeBL or is it something else?
Here’s an attempt to list some PracticeBL examples in order from classic outwards, where do they stop being PracticeBL?
Teaching practice
Medical/pharmaceutical internship
Engineering/technology/science co-operative education/UK sandwich course placement
Business School company based projects/ trading floor activity
Work experience/community based projects
ProblemBL (done in college)
Professional skills updating/renewal
Learning-by-doing/informal learning.

How much prescription of the Practice?
How much supervision (from the profession, from the college)?
How much assessment, who does it, and what form does it take? …….

Comments, discussion, requested.

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