Information Processing and Problem Solving: Case, Project and Problem Based Learning Techniques


We are bombarded with a lot of information everyday, but  how much do we really process and store in our mind? The answer lies in the fact that ow a particular piece of information was presented to us and did we participate in learning the piece that was being taught. These principles are very well valid in pedagogy and take the form of case, project and problem based learning to improve retention and retrieval of information eventually promoting effective learning. If concepts are just thrown at us with no practical experience, our mind may become averse to learning and eventually solving real-life problems. To avoid this situation, pedagogy employs case, project and problem based learning techniques which will be discussed throughout this blog.

Case Based Learning

Case Based Learning refers to the scenario where real-life cases are employed to explain concepts that otherwise would seem less interesting and improve retention of information as well. The reason behind improved retention is the fact that people remember stories better than slides and points. When a real-life case is presented, students tend to think, apply existing knowledge and problem solving skills in order to solve that case. The urge and excitement to solve the case leads their mind to form cognitive connections to the concept being taught through the case. Have a look at the video below:

The video talks about the promotion of “application of knowledge” making students the center of learning so that they can make decisions to get to a certain outcome.  The outcome reached by their decision making whether positive or negative will help them understand the effects of their decisions and have a lasting impression on their mind. The video also states that how Case Bases Learning and Problem Based Learning are similar yet have nuances.

Project Based Learning

As described by John Spencer, in the words of Mrs. Smoot, “When you hide your voice, you rob the world of your creativity.” Projects are a great source of the creative voice of the students and encourage them to think, research, implement and present their thoughts in a consolidated manner. When students venture out on their own to describe a topic, they explore new avenues, face unforeseen challenges, learn from their mistakes eventually getting a solid grasp of the project topic.

“Project Based Learning means learning through projects rater than doing culminating project. It involves student choice in design, instead of just following a set of instructions. It includes student inquiry, rather than pre-planned questions. It includes peer and self-assessment, rather than only relying on teacher assessment. And then includes student ownership of the process, rather than just teacher ownership of the process”, said John Spencer in the above video on Project Based Learning. This statement pretty much covers all the important aspects of Project Based Learning and describe how the students take the driver’s seat and take responsibility for their decisions. Let’s move on and take a look at Problem Base Learning.

Problem Based Learning

The above animation is a perfect example of Problem Based Learning, wherein the dog is presented with the problem of taking the branch across the bridge. The dog does the calculation, tries out a few cases practically and gets the job done. This is what Problem Based Learning is all about, present the students with a problem, let them research, calculate and try out solutions practically and finally get to the desired the solution. Each student might approach the problem differently, giving them intellectual freedom leading to a unique path to the same goal.

In the above video, John Spencer talks about school (for example) being a one-size fits all model whereas Problem Based Learning mitigates such a situation by providing students the opportunity to solve problems in a unique manner that matches their intellectual inclinations. he also states that students need to know how to navigate through the complexity of the global society and to do so, Problem Based Learning is an important tool in the hands of the educators. The four phases of Problem Based Learning are very well described in the above video. The first phase involves presenting the problem to the students followed by a collaborative effort to develop a plan to solve the problem. The next phase involves implementing the plan, which can be done in many different ways adding uniqueness to the problem solving technique. The final step is evaluation of the implementation, giving students to review and make changes to their process along with analyzing the results.

All the techniques mentioned above are critical in processing information and decision making and are powerful tools of education if handed in the right set of hands. Such techniques break the idea of one size fits all and give students the chance to develop in their own unique ways.

1. Working in Large Teams: Measuring the Impact of a
Teamwork Model to Facilitate Teamwork Development in
Engineering Students Working in a Real Project: file:///C:/Users/dsahi/Downloads/Murzi%20et%20al.%20IJEE%20Working%20in%20large%20teams.pdf


One Reply to “Information Processing and Problem Solving: Case, Project and Problem Based Learning Techniques”

  1. As mentioned in the first video, ancient people have passed along a lot of wisdom and information throughout centuries by the means of storytelling. This point alone shows the effectiveness of storytelling in the teaching/learning process. The modern educational systems can use this fact to make a bigger and longer-lasting impact on the student’s mind.

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