Learning is an individual process where new knowledge, skills and attitudes gives each individual a unique understanding of thinking and action. A good learning environment creates motivation, activity, context with reality, and provides an atmosphere for learning (Alvarstein & Johannesen, 2001). Delivery of learning was achieved by lessons in schools and lectures in universities, together with practical on-the-job work experience or apprenticeships to acquire skills and reading to acquire knowledge.
Employees in Health and Social Care settings; must now be able to identify problems, analyze and finally solve them. (Alvarstein & Johannesen, 2001) Change has also taken place in the educational sector at an accelerating rate. Many factors have contributed to this change but those primarily responsible are (Race, 1998):
- A knowledge explosion.
- A communications revolution.
- Rapidly increasing awareness of the processes where effective learning is achieved.
- The empowerment of learners.
With the changes taking place, teachers and tutors have been disempowered and many learners are now increasingly paying for their own training and with that comes an expectation of change from teachers and tutors in terms of what they should be delivering. This has resulted in the conceptualization of ‘student centred learning’. Race (1998) argues that learning has always been student centred, but that teaching, and training have not.
According to Race (1998) there are five factors that underpin successful learning:
- wanting to learn (or intrinsic motivation);
- needing to learn (or extrinsic motivation);
- learning-by-doing (practice, trial and error, experiential learning);
- learning through feedback (other people’s reactions, praise, criticism);
making sense of what has been learned (‘digesting’, reflecting, getting one’s head around it)
PBL could be able to be applied across all industries and professions because in the application there is a diversification away from the pedagogical model toward an andragogical model that makes the student more responsible for the process of learning and the provision of a solution or solutions. Intrinsic in this model is the ability of the student to cooperate and learn in a group environment, as they would in the workplace, and together, apply creativity to formulate the solutions to designated problems. The student effectively changes from a passive to an active role (Chen-Jung, 2003)