Enhancing Learner Engagement, Interest, and Motivation Through Problem-Based Learning


“Too often we give children answers to remember, rather than problems to solve.” ~ Roger Lewin

Problem-based learning, a collaborative instructional model, allows learners to engage and work together to learn and solve complex and ill-structured problems. The role of the instructor is no longer of telling, but rather of facilitating the learning of the learners (Hmelo-Silver & DeSimone, 2013).



Four Goals of Problem-Based Learning

  • Construct flexible knowledge where learners understand when and why knowledge is useful.

  • Develop effective problem-solving skills where learners learn reasoning strategies for different domains and problems.

  • Promote lifelong learning skills where learners learn to become self-regulated learners.

  • Foster collaboration as learners participate in small groups.


There are several key features of problem-based learning that serve to help support the four goals. One example of a feature is a learner-centered tutorial process where learners are given little information concerning an ill-defined problem. In the problem-based learning model, learners use whiteboards as scaffolds for problem-solving. The other key features are problem, facilitation, collaboration, and reflection, all of which are embedded within the problem-based learning tutorial.


Engagement, Interest, and Motivation

There are three constructs to consider when designing for learning: engagement, interest, and motivat