vPBL: developing a facilitated remote approach to problem based learning

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A classroom based Problem Based Learning (PBL) activity was adapted to run as a remote activity during the COVID-19 pandemic using an approach described as virtual Problem Based Learning (vPBL). vPBL is based on (i) identification of a suitable learning platform that supports collaborative working in a way that mimics the classroom based activity and provides additional flexibility for teams to work together, and (ii) adaptation of the problem structure to provide additional time for students to work together and additional facilitated support where needed. Student performance and self-reported levels of transferrable skills development in the vPBL activity were as good as they were in the PBL version of the same activity. Furthermore, the transition to vPBL appears to have no negative impact on student learning and development. Although there was evidence to suggest students in the vPBL cohort collaborate between sessions to a similar extent as their colleagues who learnt primarily through interactive online lectures, there was evidence of greater use of some collaborative digital learning tools (audio and video chat and desktop and file sharing) in the vPBL cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1642–1650
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number4
Early online date4 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.


  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Second-Year Undergraduate
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate
  • Collaborative/Cooperative Learning
  • Inquiry-Based/Discovery Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Chemistry(all)


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