Author Topic: Advantages and Disadvantages of Problem-Based Learning in the Workplace  (Read 191 times)

Md. Anikuzzaman

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Problem-based learning is a method of educating adult learners that combines theoretical knowledge with practical application. The process engages participants in considering complex and challenging issues and encourages them to work collaboratively towards finding an appropriate solution. The expectation is that participants will have the motivation to learn because the problem scenarios are based on real-life situations found in the workplace. Although workplace problem-based learning has distinct advantages, such as cultivating practical skills that are easily transferable to work situations, there are also disadvantages associated with this learning method.

Knowledge Retention
Participants in problem-based learning initiatives have a better grasp of the issues they learn about and retain the knowledge for longer periods of time. Problem-based learning is practical and it requires participants to engage their reasoning and problem-solving skills to resolve the scenarios they are presented with. As a result, the learning process is more effective because participants are not trying to memorize large volumes of information that will need to be interpreted and applied to different situations. Instead, participants are able to internalize the knowledge that the organization wishes them to have and there is less need for continuous development or refresher courses.

Develops Competencies
One of the greatest advantages of workplace problem-based learning is that in addition to the learning objectives, it develops core competencies among the participants. Problem-based learning is a collaborative method that requires participants to work together and to evaluate all possible the solutions until they settle on the most effective. The learning method fosters teamwork, diversity and mutual respect, which are invaluable competencies in the workplace. Participants also develop their abilities to think strategically and this is a highly valued attribute particularly in the highly dynamic context within which organizations increasingly operate.

Complicates Evaluation
Although workplace problem-based learning is meant to enhance participants’ ability to react to work situations, it is difficult to evaluate whether the decisions they make in a given situation are as a result of their learning or other factors. Since problem-based learning is largely informal, evaluating the process on the basis of any structured or objective standard is complicated as the organizational managers cannot easily determine how much participants took away from their training. They have to observe them more closely over a longer period of time to determine whether the organizational resources were put to good use in sponsoring participants to workplace-based learning training sessions.

Context Specific
Workplace problem-based learning may be limited in its effectiveness because it is highly context specific. During the learning process, participants are given a specific problem that is based on a foreseeable work scenario. Although the learning is complete when the participants formulate a viable solution based on the resources available to them, they may not know how to deal with different situations. Further, during the learning sessions, there is no right or wrong answer but at work, those who had participated in problem-based learning need to come up with the right solutions. If they fail to identify the best solution then the organization is likely to suffer from the consequences of the misjudgment.