Problem Based Learning

In year 11 students will participate in the 1-5-1 program that implements the Problem Based Learning teaching pedagogy. Although sharing some similarities to that of project based learning undertaken in years 9 and 10 (e.g. inquiry, creativity, authenticity and group work), it differs significantly in it’s application and structure.


The purpose of problem based learning is to provide students with a strong foundation in solving complex problems according to NSW syllabus requirements. The Higher School Certificate requires students to apply the higher order skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Program Origin

Problem based learning originated at McMaster University, Canada, to help medical students apply their knowledge. It has since been adopted across the globe by most Universities’ faculties of Medicine as well as by numerous engineering and other tertiary level institutions.

The particular model of Problem Based Learning that we have adopted here at Parramatta Marist was developed in Singapore within the Republic Polytechnic1. The model was developed to assist students in Singapore meet the high demands set by university and the workplace across Asia.

Program Structure

Students are given ‘one problem in one day’ and are required to propose a solution to the problem posed. In teams, the students present their solution to the class and the teacher at the conclusion of the day.

Students will also participate in individual assessment tasks such as research tasks and examinations to ensure that learning is of a high quality. The focus is placed on both the ‘process’ used to solve the problem as well as the solution itself.

Research shows that if students are able to implement appropriate problem solving techniques they will be able to adapt accordingly when the criteria for a question changes.


Download the Problem Based Learning Booklet 2MB


For more detailed information regarding teaching, learning and assessment at PMH please visit the 'Curriculum Connected Portal'.