Making Learning Real with Problem-Based Case Learning



The instructor's collection, throughout the PBCL experience, of data related to the performance of one or more students. The primary objective of assessment is to use the information to plan and implement any required remedial actions that might involve making changes to the instructor's methods and/or prompting the student to make changes.

Note: The differences between "assessment" and "evaluation" are complicated by the many uses and interpretations of both words. So although they are sometimes used interchangeably, the ITL project team chooses to define them in ways that emphasize the significance and application of their subtle differences.

Business partner

A commercial, non-profit, governmental, or other type of organization—or a representative of that organization—that is a participant in a PBCL experience.

Case-based learning

The method by which students analyze authentic or fictional models with well-defined solutions that exhibit course-related materials in context.

Contextual learning

The method by which students learn abstract ideas in the context of practical applications that reflect the real world.


The instructor's gathering of data, during the Evidence of Learning stage of the PBCL Cycle, related to the performance of one or more students. The business partner may provide information that the instructor can consider as part of the evaluation.

The three primary uses of information gathered during evaluation include:

Note: See "assessment" for the ITL project team's perspective on the differences between "assessment" and "evaluation."

Inquiry-based approach

The method by which students learn through asking questions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions.


The knowledge (concepts), skills (abilities), and attitudes (dispositions) identified as the content for students to learn.


The process of thinking about thinking that leads toward an improved ability to take control of one's own learning process and the subsequent improvement in actual learning and application of knowledge.


The Need to Know Board—a chart containing four columns to visually display facts, assumptions, questions, and resources uncovered by students during a PBCL experience.


Problem-Based Case Learning

PBCL Cycle

The nine-stage process that instructors, students, and business partners follow according to the PBCL approach.

PBCL experience

The actions and thought processes of instructors, students, and business partners as they use the PBCL Cycle to work with a problematic situation.

Note: The terms "case" and "problem" are sometimes, understandably, used to refer to the work done to analyze and solve a problematic situation in the PBCL approach. However, the label "PBCL experience" is preferred.

Problematic situation

The authentic and current circumstances that a business partner brings to a PBCL experience.

Problem-based learning

The method by which students, usually working together in groups, take active responsibility for acquiring and/or activating the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to solve an authentic or fictionalized problem.


The nine elements of the PBCL Cycle that describe the activities to be performed at that point.


Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics