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Paper presented at the MERA-ERA Joint Conference, Malacca, Malaysia, 1-3 December 1999
There are several definitions of Problem Based Learning (PBL). For example, those
of the Basudur Simplex Model, Kaufman and Swartz. The common features are: 1) Find and
define the problem; 2) Examine facts and possibilities; 3) Consider alternative solutions; 4)
Implement the best solution and 5) Problems should be related to the “real world”. However, in
the natural sciences and mathematics, one often proceeds from “real world” problems to the
conceptualisation of the abstract. Conceptualisation of the abstract is one of the tenets of the
natural sciences and mathematics. Perhaps it is required less in the biological sciences, but it is
increasingly required in physics and almost entirely in mathematics. The usual definitions of
PBL have to be adapted to take into account the fact that conceptualisation of the abstract,
rather than solving “real world” problems, is the end-product of many problems in the
scientific disciplines. We give examples and counter-examples of the applicability of PBL
integrated with information technology in our disciplines.
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