Problem-based learning prompts students to learn the course content and its related skills by solving real-world problems and reflecting on their experiences throughout the problem-solving process. Cornell University describes the problem-based learning process as: students examine and define the problem, explore what they already know, determine what knowledge and skills they need to learn to solve the problem, evaluate possible solutions, attempt to solve it, and report on their findings. Queen’s University offers tips on designing and developing a problem-based learning course, curriculum characteristics, and assessment methods.
Case-based learning engages students in discussion of real-world scenarios. Cases present a disciplinary problem for which students engage in groups to work together to examine, analyze, and propose resolutions for it. Queen’s University offers teaching strategies and resources for integrating case-based learning into a course. Yale University highlights several of case-based learning’s defining characteristics, including versatility, storytelling, and self-guided learning, and examples from Science, Medicine, Public Health, Law, Business, and Humanities.
Project-based learning engages students to tackle authentic problems using design-based thinking. For Larmer and Mergendoller (2010), a project is appropriate for this model when it meets two criteria: students perceive this work as personally meaningful and the project fulfills an educational purpose. The University of Lethbridge recommends faculty keep six things in mind as they design assignments and assessments using project-based learning:
- Projects should be based on a real-world problem
- Projects should not have a predetermined outcome
- Break the projects down into multiple tasks
- Have students track their progress
- Have students share their project progress with you and their peers
- Have students produce something as a way to close the project, e.g., presentation, poster, report
Harvard Business Publishing also lists five best practices for project-based learning, particularly when working with industry and community partners.
Inquiry-based learning engages students in the research process by learning disciplinary content while engaging and refining their inquiry-skills. McMaster University identifies six basic features of an inquiry-based course:
- Is question-driven (rather than topic or thesis-driven)
- Starts off with a general theme
- Emphasizes asking good research questions
- Builds the library, interview, research, and critical thinking skills necessary to engage in the inquiry and report on their learning
- Includes some mechanism for students to monitor their progress throughout the course
- Draws on the expertise of the instructor to model effective inquiry and promote reflection.
Queen’s University offers inquiry-based teaching strategies, guidelines, and resources for those wishing to get started.