P5BL Approach (People, Problem, Process, Product and Project Based Learning)

P5BL stands for People, Problem, Process, Product and Project Based Learning.

The P5BL approach was a learning strategy introduced in Stanford School of Engineering in their P5BL laboratory in 1993 as an initiative to offer their graduate students from the engineering, architecture and construction disciplines to implement their skills in a "cross-disciplinary, collaborative and geographically distributed teamwork experience". In this approach, which was pioneered by Stanford Professor Fruchter, an environment across six universities from Europe, the United States and Japan along with a toolkit to capture and share project knowledge was developed. The students (people) from the three disciplines were assigned a team project that works on solving a problem and delivering an end-product to a client.

The main stress of this approach is to have an inter-disciplinary integrated development of deliverables, in order to improve the overall competency and skills of the students. P5BL mentoring is a structured activity that involves situated learning and constructivist learning strategies to foster the culture of practice that would extend beyond the university campus to real life. P5BL is all about encouraging teaching and learning teamwork in the information age, by facilitating team interaction with professors, industry mentors and owners who provide necessary guidance and support for the learning activity.

Key advantages of this method are that it familiarizes students with real world problems and improves their confidence in solving these. It also improves their networking skills, thereby establishing rapport with key persons of the industry. They also learn the value of teamwork. The method also creates in them an appreciation of interdisciplinary approach.

The approach however needs due consideration of the mentoring provided to the students. Appropriate scaffolding should be done by the mentors to ensure that students are successful in attaining their project goals to solve the problem. Communication between the team should also be open and constructive in nature for achieving the necessary milestones.