Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an approach to training that has been used in various industries for more than 40 years though with limited application in the oil and gas industry. PBL has two fundamental goals: 1) to support participants as they learn the required domain skills and knowledge; 2) to support the participants through the process of learning to be self-directed, self-regulating problem-solvers. The first goal should be the minimum expectation of any technical training program. The second goal has more varied utility, since becoming self-directed learners and problem-solvers are not always learning outcomes required of technical training. But when these are required, PBL is the tool of choice.
In this paper we will identify the critical attributes that define PBL; we will briefly discuss when PBL is ideal and when it is not; we will also report on a problem-based, instructional development project conducted at the Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC) at Saudi Aramco. We will describe the analysis, design, development, and delivery phases of the project with a focus on key processes and products that resulted because of the PBL approach. Lastly, evaluation data will be analyzed and conclusions will be drawn.