Learning Theories and Problem-Based Learning

  • Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver
  • Catherine Eberbach
Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 8)


In this chapter, we describe different theoretical perspectives – information processing, social constructivism, and sociocultural perspectives – that underlie and provide a useful lens for exploring learning in problem-based contexts. First, an examination of information processing focuses on the role and structure of prior knowledge, with a special emphasis on how expert knowledge activates certain productive problem-solving strategies that can be adapted for learning general problem-solving strategies. Second, an exploration of social constructivism focuses on the development of knowledge as people engage in institutional, interpersonal, and discursive processes in which learners construct their own knowledge through social interactions. Finally, we explore the relationship between sociocultural theory and problem-based learning to understand how cultural tools are used and transformed in specific contexts to facilitate co-construction of knowledge for future independent problem solving.


Knowledge Construction Cognitive Apprenticeship Sociocultural Theory Information Processing Theory Psychological Tool 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver
    • 1
  • Catherine Eberbach
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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