Supporting students in problem-based learning curricula

Scholars tend to disagree about whether the appropriate amount of guidance is provided to students in a problem-based curriculum. Some authors argue that problem-based learning (PBL) is a minimally guided approach, in which insufficient support is provided to students to lead to meaningful learning (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). On the other hand, other authors suggest that PBL is in fact scaffolded in such a way that learning is actually enhanced (Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007).

However, at a recent symposium on self-regulation at the Open University in Heerlen, prof. dr. Alexander Renkl argued that even when appropriate external regulation is provided in a learning environment, students still need to be supported in order to develop their self-regulated learning (Renkl, 2017).  Specifically, although the educator might give effective explanations, the actual learning process needs to be done by the student (Berthold & Renkl, 2010). Furthermore, it was argued in this presentation that students are not always able to optimally use the help tools that are offered to them (Schwonke et al., 2013).  Therefore, in addition to providing tools to students to guide their learning, it was argued that is also important to provide support in how to use this guidance.

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