Spring 2009     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 13, Issue 1     Editorial (1)
Selected from an assortment of high quality submissions on problem-based learning (PBL),
this issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly includes a set of articles we feel need to 
be shared with our readership with an emphasis on evaluation of PBL as an effective 
pedagogical approach to instruction. With its historical beginning in medical 
education, these articles represent the breadth of fields in which PBL is being used 
and evaluated today. 

In this issue, Canfield and Zastavker examine the complex adoption experiences of 
mathematics and physics college faculty during their initial use of a PBL-based 
engineering curriculum. Musal, Taskiran, Ozal, and Gursel survey the extent to which 
PBL is used in Turkish medical schools and find variety in the ways in which PBL is 
conceived and practiced due to its evolution over time at each site. Schimmoeller, 
Sheldon, and Toteva illustrate how PBL can be used to effectively train elementary 
and middle school teachers to better meet the science learning needs of children 
through inquiry-based, hands-on instruction and document the positive impact of 
their efforts on teachers’ science content knowledge along with the enormous task 
teachers are faced with as they attempt to counter the stereotypes children have 
regarding scientists. Panichas, O’Connell, and Albert explore how a combination of 
expository and cooperative learning PBL-based laboratory experiences contribute to 
undergraduate chemistry students’ achievement with respect to both content knowledge 
growth and affective learning while illuminating the necessity for high school 
experiences to include opportunities for collaborative experimental design in 
preparation for college-level science study. Lin and Lopez Ortiz contribute to an 
area in need of scholarly attention as they highlight how to support effective, 
interactive online learning through their findings that the behavior of college 
students while forming groups during online PBL tasks is most shaped by their 
perceptions of how easily they can gain access to particular technologies and 
their judged characteristics of the task at hand. Blaylock and Kopf report on their 
successful use of a current event, the 2008 presidential campaign of President 
Barack Obama, to spark college students’ interest in a quantitative course with 
noted enhancement of students’ engagement, self-responsibility for learning, and 
emotional involvement in the learning process. 

As these articles illustrate, PBL is not a one-size-fits-all model, and its 
application must be adjusted to fit the needs of the discipline, its learners, and 
educators. I am excited by the ways in which the authors illustrate the power of 
PBL to create an intriguing context and framework for learning where risk is 
inherent due to the open-ended nature of PBL. The honesty of these authors in their 
reported findings must be recognized – airing the successes and challenges of using 
PBL is a humbling experience. I sincerely hope that the authors’ brave, creative 
efforts and their reported successes inspire readers to consider PBL for use in 
their own work. 

Problem-based learning (PBL) will continue to be a major feature in upcoming issues 
with the next issue slotted for Spring 2010. Submissions are accepted any time until 
the end of November 2009; see details for other deadline options like early, 
regular, and short. I encourage you to submit your work on PBL for consideration 
and share this call for papers with others actively engaged in the exploration of 
PBL via conceptual, practical, qualitative, quantitative, or mixed method research 
as well as descriptive narratives of works-in-progress or future directions. Papers 
from pre-school, postsecondary, and work-place use of PBL reflecting different 
cultural and disciplinary contexts are welcome.

Wendy M. Frazier, Ed.D.
Feature Editor, Problem-Based Learning
Assistant Professor of Science Education and 
Associate Director of Center for Restructuring Education in Science and Technology
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
E-mail: wfrazier@gmu.edu 
See all published PBL articles.