Disciplinary differences or modes of curriculum practice? Who promised to deliver what in problem-based learning?



Although problem-based learning has become increasingly popular in the last five years or so, particularly in the United Kingdom, the arguments about it still seem to rage. The ones that seem to be most problematic are, first, those about the relationship between problem-based learning and other similar active learning approaches, such as project-based learning; and second, those arguments about sustaining problem-based learning curricula in the face of cuts and poor university administration. Meanwhile, the blame-it-on-problem-based-learning attitude still seems to prevail worldwide, with little real consideration of the broader concerns about some of the educational issues. For example, there seem to be too few debates about what it means to facilitate problem-based learning or how we might develop the kinds of curriculum modes that support problem-based learning, and even what might count as a curriculum. This article seeks to unpack two of those issues by drawing on research into facilitation and modes of curriculum practice.