Making Learning Real with Problem-Based Case Learning

The PBCL Cycle At-a-glance

Research findings present instructors with a conundrum:


The PBCL Cycle is designed to resolve this conflict. Its nine stages describe the structure and process through which instructors, students and business partners navigate each PBCL experience.

Download a more detailed description of the stages of the PBCL Cycle (PDF).

The design of the PBCL Cycle demonstrates the importance of structure, without sacrificing the flexibility needed for inquiry—based learning. In fact, by encouraging students to return to previous stages—to revisit ideas, information, conclusions, evidence or plans for moving forward—the looping structure of the PBCL Cycle is also an accurate representation of learning in the real world.

Instructors use the PBCL Cycle to: learn more arrow_down

  • Establish alignment with business partners
  • Design the learning experience
  • Coach students toward success in learning

Students use the PBCL Cycle to: learn more arrow_down

  • Guide their work with course content
  • Map out their interactions with each other, instructors, and business partners
  • Develop thinking about thinking (metacognition)

To help instructors, students, and business partners communicate about and use the PBCL Cycle, the Innovation in Teaching and Learning for Technological Education (ITL) group has developed a variety of resources and tools that are available on the Resources & Tools page.

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John Magill uses the PBCL Cycle to introduce a new problematic situation to his information technology students.