Are you ready for the next phase of problem based learning? Finland has been taking the teaching approach that we all have grown accustomed to and made it even more nuanced. The new PBL is not problem or project based learning, it is phenomenon based learning. Yes. You read that right. Phenomenon based learning is an approach to learning that is student centered like its predecessors but broad, multifaceted, and interdisciplinary.

The goal with this approach is to push students to use the questions they have about the world around them to explore that world from different perspectives and contexts.

In phenomenon based teaching, understanding and studying the phenomenon together starts from asking questions or posing problems (e.g. Why does an aeroplane fly and stay up in the air?) At its best, phenomenon-based learning is problem-based learning, where the learners build answers together to questions or problems posed concerning the phenomenon that interests them. The problems and questions have been posed by the learners together – they are things the learners are genuinely interested in.

From the phenomenal education website

Phenomenon based learning is not new. It has been around for at least five years and probably longer than that. The Finnish approach to teaching aims to design students who will do well in the classroom of the future, a place where “The school of the future is not a building, it is a culture of competence development, a pedagogical culture that has an active role in the development process of the information society.” ~Pasi Silander

The move from project to problem to phenomenon should come as no surprise. As our understanding of teaching and learning increases our teaching practices must evolve. What must also evolve is our methodology and our resource allocation. Too often, teachers are unable to keep up with changes in educational approach because they are bogged down by a lack of focus at the administrative level. Conversely, many times students are unable to get the instructional experiences they deserve because teacher training lags behind current education pedagogy. It is up to us to be clear eyed in our focus on student learning and committed putting our resources fully behind whatever approach is going to move students from passive consumers of their education experience to active and informed participants.

Learn more about phenomenon based learning below: