Problem-Based, Project-Based, and Team-Based Learning

… a core concept used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

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Concept description

The Stanford Teaching Commons (references below) notes that problem-based, project-based, and team-based learning are well-established teaching techniques that are frequently combined, are collaborative, and involve active learning. They are often used in case method teaching.

Stanford defines these terms as follows:

Problem-Based Learning engages students in the process of problem solving: how to think about the problem and to find possible solutions. The focus is on developing students’ ability to think critically, creatively and productively about a problem, while also nurturing team skills. Challenged with a complex, real-world problem, students work in collaborative groups or teams to understand the problem and propose solutions. Often such problems do not have an obvious solution, but are examples of challenging, open-ended problems faced in our world today. Students must analyze the nature of the problem, identify what they need to know and how to find needed information, reach informed judgments, and apply what they learn to generate ideas for possible solutions.

Project-Based Learning focuses on real solutions to a problem.  Once a problem is identified, student teams develop and demonstrate their understanding of the problem by proposing one or more solutions, often designing, constructing, and delivering a prototype. The focus is on building students’ ability to develop creative, realistic, tangible solutions to sometimes difficult problems through teamwork.  Once a solution is agreed upon, the team must decide how to realize that solution with a product or service.   Attention then turns to designing and developing a prototype of the product or detailed definition of the service.  When completed, teams may present their solution to the class or in a demo session to a broader audience.”

“In Team-Based Problem Solving, students form collaborative teams to solve a problem or undertake a project. Across each team, members should bring a diversity of complementary talents, knowledge and experience to the problem solving process. Team-based learning has many pedagogical benefits. Students engaging in teamwork typically develop greater problem solving skill and content understanding, higher motivation to learn and enthusiasm for course content, and present higher quality solutions.  At the same time, through ongoing, focused team interaction, they develop more effective communication and interpersonal skills, and greater comfort participating in collaborative groups.”

“In Case Method Teaching, students review a real-world situation (a case) that poses a thought-provoking problem or dilemma.  Students are placed in the role of decision maker and asked how they would resolve the problem. The real-life nature of cases brings interest and relevance to the application of abstract concepts and theory in practice.   Students have to sort out and analyze data presented in the case, consider relevant theory, draw conclusions, and present solutions. Through teamwork and whole-class discussion, collaborative learning plays a large role in uncovering different solutions, understanding the pros and cons of each, and weighing benefits.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Promoting Learning (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Stanford Teaching Commons, Problem-Based Learning, at, accessed 5 March 2018.

Stanford Teaching Commons, Project-Based Learning, at, accessed 5 March 2018.

Stanford Teaching Commons, Team-Based Problem Solving, at, accessed 5 March 2018.

Stanford Teaching Commons, Case Method Teaching, at, accessed 5 March 2018.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 5 March 2018.

Image: Stanford Teaching Commons, at, accessed 5 March 2018.