Learning approaches

One of La Trobe’s goals is to create new and useful knowledge, and our approaches to student learning are central to achieving that goal. The following are just a few examples of the approaches our teachers utilise:

Problem based learning

Problem based learning centres learning on a central problem, situation or case study. The ‘problem’ is presented as the first learning encounter, and students then take charge of identifying what they need to know in order to solve the problem. Though lecturers usually provide some resource suggestions and reference lists, along with lectures, seminars or practicals relevant to the topic, students are responsible for finding the information, ideas and skills they need.

Problem based learning often utilises group work and peer teaching as part of its process. Common themes of problem based learning are:

  • The ‘problem’ comes before the knowledge.
  • Students identify what they need to know.
  • Problems are often related to the ‘real world’.
  • Problems have multiple possible solutions/avenues of enquiry.

Enquiry based learning

In enquiry based learning, students are given a complex issue to investigate over several weeks. Ideally, the enquiry will reflect the complexity of a ‘real world’ application of the topic, with no single correct solution. Enquiry based learning is used to develop analytical reasoning, communication, problem formation and solution skills that reflect those of an effective professional practitioner.

Enquiry based learning also has a focus on team work. This is because in a professional environment, people usually work in teams to deal with complex issues. Through team work, students develop negotiation skills along with the ability to find relevant information, reflect on the implications of their findings with their fellow students, and contribute to a report on their resolution.  

Flexible learning

Flexible learning encompasses activities that take students’ learning interests, needs and circumstances into account. Flexible learning approaches can include online learning and a mix of online and face-to-face interaction throughout a course of study.

Flexible learning is important to La Trobe because it can have a positive effect on students’ learning success. Flexible learning responds to the needs and interests of La Trobe’s diverse student population, giving students a choice about where, when and how they learn.