Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse
Guidelines for Reviewers

As a prospective reviewer, the Editorial Board thanks you for agreeing to contribute your time and energy for the peer review of submissions to the Clearinghouse. In conjunction with the editors, reviewers help to maintain the quality of the Clearinghouse holdings, thereby providing an opportunity for the community of PBL scholars to publish their problems to an international audience. During review of the submission assigned to you, please keep the following questions and issues in mind.

Articles and problems submitted to the Clearinghouse should be original and not published elsewhere, with the possible exception of the author's personal website.

Articles published in the Clearinghouse are anticipated to cover a full range of topics related to the use of problem-based learning in the undergraduate setting. Such topics may include issues of student learning and assessment, diverse models of problem-based learning, and the use of problem-based learning in a variety of class settings and class sizes.

PBL problems and supporting materials, including student learning objectives, student and instructor resources, teaching notes, assessment strategies, and solution notes, are solicited for all disciplines. Reviewers experienced with PBL are selected for problems based primarily on their disciplinary interests. If you feel that you are unable to judge the effectiveness of a problem because of disciplinary constraints, please return it to the editor with a brief note of explanation - suggestions for alternate reviewers are welcomed.

A primary function of the peer review is to ensure that problems published in the Clearinghouse are pedagogically sound and are suitable for use in a PBL course. An important role of the reviewer is to identify any modifications or suggestions that will assist the author in improving a problem statement or staging. Please consider the following questions as you review the problem statement.

  1. Does the problem engage the students' interest? Will it motivate them to pursue and explore the concepts deeply?
  2. Is the problem cast in a context familiar to the students? Is it based on a real-world situation, scenario, or controversy?
  3. Is the problem staged well? Is the problem developed so that student interest builds?
  4. Is the information provided adequate to solve the problem? Is too much information provided? Too little?
  5. Does the complexity and length of the problem promote cooperative learning?
  6. Are some questions associated with the problem open-ended?
  7. Are the problems questions capable of challenging students at higher Bloom levels, of promoting development of higher-order thinking skills?

Is the discipline listed for the problem appropriate?

Do the author's proposed keywords suitably represent the problem and facilitate an electronic search of the Clearinghouse holdings by an informed user? Can you recommend additional keywords?

Is the abstract clear and concise? Does it adequately represent the scope of the problem and its objectives?

Student Learning Objectives
Are the objectives articulated well? Does the problem statement appear to match the stated objectives? Does the problem embrace several learning objectives?

Student Resources
Are the specified resources sufficiently general, encouraging exploration of learning issues, or very specific, taking the student immediately to a solution of the problem? Do the resources adequately represent all perspectives of a controversial topic? Are the resources authoritative, reliable, and current? Are they readily available to students?

Instructor Resources
Resources may be provided solely for the instructor's benefit in researching the learning issues before a problem is issued to students. Some resources may not be recommended for student use.

Teaching Notes
Do the teaching notes indicate the types of learning issues that arise from the students? Are helpful questioning strategies indicated? Is there a discussion of issues that arise that tend to distract students from useful solutions?

Assessment Strategies
oes the assessment match the stated learning objectives? Can individual learning be determined with these strategies?

Solution Notes
Solution notes need not be provided but are encouraged.

In addition to this Guide for Reviewers, please refer to our Problem Writing Guide for additional suggestions on well-written PBL problems. Thanks again for your valuable service to the community of PBL scholars.

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