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What Does The CIA Say About Problem-Based Learning?


I write in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work, about how I used problem-based learning in the classroom. It’s very engaging, and very effective on a number of levels.

Apparently, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agrees.

You can now read the list of questions the CIA recommends to use in order to define problems and develop a solution to them.

I think they’re pretty good, and being able to attribute them to the CIA will only make them more attractive to students. I can see giving students the lists and having them pick the ones that they’re most interested in answering.

I’ll eventually make a separate “The Best…” list for Problem-Based Learning but, for now, I’ll add this resource to The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Wonderful that you got to link to the CIA, and an excellent article. And, while I was reading this article, I continued on to the comments and read another article about 15 axioms for analysts which appeared in a 1997 CIA journal. THEN, I went back to the Table of Contents of that now de-classified journal, just out of curiosity, and found a lengthy article predicting the collapse of intelligence in…..2001. Aw, gee. Here’s the link for that:

  2. Thanks Larry for a great post and an inspiring introduction! Hope to try problem-based learning with my students next year.

    The list of questions “the smart guys” use are also very interesting. I wonder if I can use it when discussing the news with my students?

    Interesting, what do these people do with the news articles?

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