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Problem-based learning as a facilitator of conceptual change

, Institute of Psychology ; , School of Teacher Education and Leadership, United States ; , , Institute of Psychology

Learning and Instruction Volume 38, Number 1, ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We investigated whether problem-based learning (PBL) can foster conceptual change. Students were randomly assigned to a PBL, lecture-based, or self-study group, all receiving instruction about the topic of Newtonian laws. Conceptual change was measured from pre- to immediate post-test (directly after instruction) and from immediate post-test to delayed post-test after one week. Results showed that the PBL-group outperformed both the lecture and the self-study group on the immediate post-test. This result supported the hypothesis that PBL can increase the likelihood of conceptual change. The PBL group also outperformed both other groups at the delayed post-test after one week; the decline in conceptual change from immediate to delayed post-test was similar for all three groups. Findings are discussed in terms of cognitive engagement.


Loyens, S.M.M., Jones, S.H., Mikkers, J. & van Gog, T. (2015). Problem-based learning as a facilitator of conceptual change. Learning and Instruction, 38(1), 34-42. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved April 19, 2021 from .

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