Making Learning Real with Problem-Based Case Learning
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Resources & Tools


These resources may be helpful to those exploring or implementing PBCL. Please note that these are all independent web sites, and the and ITL project teams do not have any role in them and therefore do not take any responsibility for the content on them.

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Center for Innovative Learning Technologies

This NSF-funded center researches and promotes effective practice in technology-enabled education.

Critical Thinking Assessment Test

This NSF-supported project has created a tool designed to assess and promote the improvement of critical thinking and real-world problem solving.

EAST Initiative

The EAST Initiative is a high school project-based model, supported by technology. Background is available at and active projects using the model can be found at


A non-profit association that aims to promote the intelligent use of information technology.


The George Lucas Educational Foundation publishes Edutopia in print and online. The focus of the foundation is K-12 education; and the site includes robust resources on project-based learning, including video.

Innovative Learning

This web site from consultant Richard Culatta has information on instructional design, online learning, instructional technology, learning innovators, and social learning, among other topics.

Knowledge in Action™/AP+

This is a project-based approach developed by researchers at the University of Washington, including Dr. John Bransford, who was key to the development of PBCL. An introductory video and explanatory resource is available at this site.

LIFE Center (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments)

This NSF-funded center brings together multidisciplinary research on how people learn socially, and fosters collaboration. It is a partnership of the University of Washington, Stanford University, and SRI International. The web site has research reports, news, and other content.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation has supported development of PBCL and its preceding incarnations. Their web site explains the organization, and grant activity; it also has news and publications.

National Service Learning Clearinghouse

This resource includes background (such as research reports) on service learning.

New Horizons for Learning

This program in research about learning is now hosted at the Johns Hopkins School of Education and includes articles on such topics as brain function applied to learning, and offers a mailing list and network opportunities.


Instructors, students and business partners can find valuable Problem Based Case Learning tools here.

You may download the tools in PDF format, or customize the tool by downloading the Word doc. Please do not delete the web address from these documents.

Come back and check this page periodically to see additions to our list of tools. Even better, sign up for our e-mail newsletter and we'll tell you about new tools when they're posted here. Have you found or created tools that might be useful to others? We'll post them, giving you full credit. To sign up for our newsletter or to send us your tools, please contact us.

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PBCL Design Tool

The PBCL Design Tool includes sections for all of the elements instructors might consider in the design of a PBCL experience. Instructors and business partners can use this tool anytime they develop a new PBCL experience.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Need to Know Board (NTKB)

The Need to Know Board (NTKB) is a four-column visual organizer for recording facts, assumptions, questions, and resources. When used at any point during the PBCL experience, the NTKB helps focus students' attention on their process and establish a clear and consistent way of communicating.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Habits of Mind Checklist

The Habits of Mind Checklist allows instructors to rate how well their students exhibit behaviors that reflect and promote skillful thinking. Although the tool can be employed at any point in the PBCL experience, it's most edifying when instructors use it to compare students' ratings given at the beginning and at the end of a PBCL experience.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Useful Resources for Finding Business Partners

This document includes links to government agencies, industry associations, and other resources that can be helpful when instructors attempt to identify business partners for their courses.
Download PDF

Scoring Rubric for Presentations

The Scoring Rubric for Presentations lists traits that can be systematically observed during a presentation. Instructors, students, and business partners can use this tool to rate students during rehearsals and subsequent presentations.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Professional Development and Coaching Program Brochure

This document describes the professional development and coaching programs offered by ITL.
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Indicators of PBCL

The Indicators of PBCL tool lists traits exhibited by strong PBCL experiences. Instructors can use this tool before and during a PBCL experience to help guide their planning and reflection.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

The Stages of the PBCL Cycle

This document provides a detailed description of each of the PBCL Cycle's nine stages. Instructors can share this tool with students and business partners to establish shared terminology for understanding and communicating about the PBCL experience.
Download PDF

Thinking Through the PBCL Cycle

The Thinking Through the PBCL Cycle tool includes prompts for students to think about their progress at each stage of the PBCL Cycle. Students can use this tool to help them check if they're ready to move to the next stage of the PBCL Cycle or if they need to return to a previous stage.
Download PDF

Assessing Teamwork

The Assessing Teamwork tool lists indicators of effective, appropriate, and responsive teamwork. Instructors can use this tool to assess students; students can use it to assess themselves and other students.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Observation Form

The Observation Form provides spaces for instructors to document and rate the frequency of students' verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Instructors can use this tool at any point in the PBCL experience to structure their observations and communicate their observations with students.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Learning Log

The Learning Log provides guidelines to support student metacognition (i.e., thinking about thinking). Students can make entries into their logs throughout the PBCL Cycle and can use them for reference during reflection and debriefing events.
Download PDF | Download Word doc

Checking for Understanding

The Checking for Understanding tool lists a variety of questions that can be used to support the development of deeper learning and understanding. Students can refer to this tool as they progress through the PBCL Cycle and instructors can refer to it when looking for ways to prompt particular thoughts or behaviors in their students.
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Dale Rogers, Ruth Loring, and Jim Johnson
Students in an architectural design class use the Need to Know Board to explore a problematic situation.