This thesis focuses on characteristics of problems in Problem-based Learning (PBL). Problems initiate the students’ learning process in PBL. Several studies have shown that the quality of problems has a positive influence on students’ academic achievement and interest. In addition, the quality of problems has been shown to have a higher influence than the tutor’s performance and students’ prior knowledge on students’ learning. The implication of these findings is that designing good problems will result in better learning. However, there are very few studies which shed light on the characteristics of problems. To contribute to our understanding of problems characteristics and their influence on students’ learning, this thesis presents five studies. The five studies (1) explored the characteristics of problems in students’ and tutors’ perspectives, (2) developed, validated and tested the reliability of a problem quality rating scale to measure the characteristics of problems, and (3) used the rating scale to study the influence of problem familiarity on students’ learning.

characteristics, problem-based learning, problems, rating scale, students’ perceptions, tutors’ perceptions
H.G. Schmidt (Henk)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Psychology

Sockalingam, N. (2010, January 20). Characteristics of Problems in Problem-based Learning. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from