Traditionally, students learn by listening to lectures and reading, and are assessed on their ability to recall and communicate what they have learned. With problem-based learning, students are assessed on their ability to go through a problem solving process.


Research shows that PBL gives the learner greater long-term benefits than traditional learning, and many successful and progressive universities around the world use it in their courses. Graduates of PBL courses advance faster and further in their careers.

  • Other benefits of PBL:
  • Develops critical and creative thinking;
  • Creates effective problem-solvers;
  • Increases motivation;
  • Encourages lateral thinking;
  • Improves communication and networking skills;
  • Is based on real-life situations.


Every PBL project is carefully designed by experts to expose you to the information and skills that we want you to learn. When assigned a project, you are given:

  • A statement of the problem (eg. diseased animal; failing business; anorexia case study);
  • Questions to consider when solving the problem;
  • A framework for the time and effort you should spend on the project;
  • Support from the school.

The problems that you will solve in your course will relate to what you are learning. They are problems that you might encounter when working that field, adapted to your level of study .



We know that a successful course is more than a collection of information within a discipline. 
PBL is a style of learning that forces the student to be proactive, and develops their confidence and ability to work to specification -BUT it does require a commitment on the part of the student to get involved.  If a personality is not suited to PBL, it will not work for them.



PBL Project Aim
Develop a project plan and produce a report which identifies and addresses the effect of climate change on the agricultural sector in a region of your choice. The report should detail strategies which may be effective in reducing risk for farmers in the region due to the changing climate.

Learning Outcomes

You must:

1. Select a hypothetical team of three people to work with, identified by skill set rather than name,
2. Detail the climate and weather risks and benefits that exist in this region,
3. Identify the potential for affect and the impact on the agricultural industry in the region,
4. Based on your research develop a plan which aims to address these potential effects, and
5. Produce a report which details your research and describes your plan for manages the risk for farmers in this region.

To be successful you will have to show effective communication skills in the management plan produced. 

Problem Definition

You have just been promoted to the position of project manager in the governing body of your country responsible for the agricultural sector. An example of this would be the CSIRO in Australia. 

Due to your knowledge of climate science, your supervisor has tasked you with identifying and addressing the potential of climate change to affect the agricultural industry in a region of your country renowned for its agricultural production. 

You must produce a report identifying the existing climate in the area, the local agriculture economy and the effect climate change would have on this industry in the region. You must also identify strategies that you governing body could recommend and/or implement to reduce the risk for local farmers.

You must demonstrate clear communication skills when creating the management plan. It should be written to include a background on the region (of your choice), it should show clearly defined stages from planning through to reporting.  

Team Structure and Mode of Interaction

Being a relatively short project, the quantity of interaction with others needs to be limited. Your team will consist of yourself and three hypothetical team members. You may utilize these team members however you wish but their scope must reflect reality. 

Your tutor is in the hypothetical role of your supervisor, who is highly experienced in climatology, agriculture, research methods and project management. You should approach your tutor in the same way that you would approach a real life supervisor.

You must contact your tutor two times via phone or email during the project, before attempting to commence the final submission.
At each point of contact, you should be mindful that your hypothetical supervisor is overworked, underpaid and only available for short consultations. Questions you put to your supervisor (tutor) should be meaningful, designed to contribute toward achieving the stated project aim, and above all, should not be repetitive. Contact should be concise and time efficient.

You must also seek support from your tutor and any other interested parties within the school community, by submitting relevant questions to a student room forum or social media sites, seeking meaningful feedback, on at least two occasions during the project, before attempting to commence the final submission. 

You must also check for responses and if useful, incorporate the responses into your final report. You may ask for guidance, assistance or simply report on your progress. You may request more frequent assistance if necessary, within reason. It is not your tutor’s role to solve the problem.


Human resources (optional) – You may draw on the skills, knowledge and assistance of others – other students, experts whom you consult, friends. All assistance must be formally acknowledged. 

Internet Resources – ACS Student Room and Library, Searches undertaken on search engines, or communication with others on social media sites.  

Other resources (compulsory)– You are expected to use some resources, but the choice of which ones are yours) You may gather the information required to solve this problem from course readings, books, journals, news programs, the internet, etc. All sources must be acknowledged.


This project should take between 8-10 hours (including communications with a tutor or others). When 10 hours of work has been completed, submit what you have, no matter what stage it is in. You may be penalised for exceeding this time limit.

You will be assessed on your capacity to work through the problem to a logical conclusion. 

You are not being assessed on the report.

The report will be part of what shows the school that you have worked through the problem in an appropriate way. Your interaction with a tutor and use of a forum in the student room are also indicators that you have worked through the problem appropriately

Final Report

You may use any if a variety of means to present your project but should not spend more than a quarter of the total time involved in the project, on preparing the presentation. Most students are likely to submit a written presentation, possibly with one or more illustrations. 

If you have the equipment at hand, and appropriate skills, it is acceptable for you to submit a presentation any other way (e.g. a Multi-media presentation with Power point or Flash, Video, CD, DVD).

Your presentation must include:

1. An account of the problem-solving process you experienced.

2. A copy of your plan. 

3. A concise report presenting the current economy and dependence on climate, current climate data and addressing risk management strategies.

4. A list of issues that arose during the project that you either could not deal with or that were not essential to the project.

5. A list of resources used, including human resources.

6. An evaluation of your personal experience when doing the project, including what you did very well, and what you can improve (this is from the perspective of being a student, so for example, you may talk about your research skills as a strength and your time management which may need improved). 



Presentation Component

Minimum Required

Maximum Allowed

Account of the plan problem solving process


One paragraph or 1 minute presentation or equivalent

One page or 3 minute presentation or equivalent

Your plan

Two pages or 6 minute presentation, or equivalent


Three pages or 9 minute presentation or equivalent

Your report

One page or equivalent


Two pages or equivalent

Issues arising


Half page or equivalent

Full page or equivalent

List of resources

A few words for each point bulleted or equivalent


Half page or equivalent

Evaluation of your experience

100 words, 1 minute presentation or equivalent


300 words, 2 minute presentation or equivalent