TREE – Teaching and Research in Engineering in Europe Special Interest Group B5 "Problem based and project oriented learning

" SIG Leader: Selahattin Kuru, Isik University

Problem Based Learning

Latest update, 10.08.07


Problem Based Learning
Contributors: Anette Kolmos, Aalborg University (Denmark) Selahattin Kuru, Işık University (Turkey) Hans Hansen, Vitus Bering University College (Denmark) Taner Eskil, Işık University (Turkey) Luca Podesta, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ (Italy) Flemming Fink, Aalborg University (Denmark) Erik de Graaff, Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) Jan Uwe Wolff, Vitus Bering University College (Denmark) Ahmet Soylu, Işık University (Turkey)

ABSTRACT This report discuss Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning (PBL) as an approach to meeting the demand for the educational requirements of the next generation engineering graduates. The report is prepared as the final report of the Special Interest Group (SIG) B5 of the Erasmus Thematic Network Project TREE (Teaching and Research in Engineering Education) on ProblemBased and Project-Based Learning. In engineering education there is a shift in emphasis from professional skills to process skills. These skills include problem analysis and problem solving, project management and leadership, analytical skills and critical thinking, dissemination and communication, interdisciplinary competencies, intercultural communication, innovation and creativity, and social abilities. PBL is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources. PBL is both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and designed problems that demand from the learner acquisition of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills. The process replicates the commonly used systemic approach to resolving problems or meeting challenges that are encountered in life and career. This report gives a survey of PBL and several best practice examples from Europe, and discusses how an institution can change to PBL. The conclusion of this report is that PBL can, regardless of discipline, enhance students' achievement of both professional skills and process skills. Therefore European higher education institutions should consider shifting to PBL. The shift to PBL cannot be accomplished as a sudden change. It should be considered as a strategic change and the necessary measures should be taken for successful completion of change.


TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents 1. THE CHALLENGE 2. OVERVIEW OF PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING 3. PBL BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLES 3.1 Aalborg University, Denmark 3.2 Maastricht University, The Netherlands 3.3 Vitus Bering University College, Denmark 3.4 Işık University, Turkey 3.5 University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, Italy 3.6 Other Examples 4. CHANGING TO PBL 5. CONCLUSION REFERENCES CITED APPENDIX: BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX: WEB RESOURCES


1. THE CHALLENGE A survey carried out in the years 1995 and 1997 amongst 36 Danish companies and 269 American companies shows the demands on personal qualifications of their employees or future employees. Some of these demands are summarised below: • Communicative skills. The ability to communicate a message clearly is crucial, particularly in the light of increasing needs for working in teams. Being able to communicate knowledge in an understandable language is especially important for cooperative organisations comprising specialists. • Ability to work in teams. As a result of the technological development and increasing competition employees must possess specialised knowledge within relevant professions. At the same time they must realize that the correct solution to a given task can only be achieved in cooperation with groups of people, who jointly possess the needed cross disciplinary competences. • Flexibility. Employees must be willing “to move”, not only physically but also mentally. They must be prepared to break up inveterate habits in order to cope with changes in organisation, tasks, fields of production etc. • Initiative. A property connected with the development towards a “flat” organisational structure and extended responsibility given to employees. If people are responsible for certain tasks/areas, they are also expected to take initiatives. • International orientation. Understanding and accepting other cultures is crucial for work on an international competitive market even if a company is oriented towards the domestic market. The markets are global and it is hardly possible to survive locally. Deep knowledge of different cultures is important. An international orientation means proficiency in at least one of the main languages plus detailed knowledge of at least one foreign culture. • Interpersonal qualifications. Being responsible, quality focused adaptable, communicative, ability to work in a team, work discipline, reliability. • Analytical skills. It is increasingly important for professionals to possess highly developed analytical skills. These are prerequisites in order to deal independently with new complicated problems or work processes, to divide complex tasks into manageable sizes and to see process relations. • Management skills. It is important to educate/train people within managerial aspects. Companies and organisations dealing with international projects often seek cross border cooperation and form project organisations with both professional and functional management. The above is very much in line with ABET1 criteria for program outcomes and assessment, which states that engineering programs must demonstrate that graduates have • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and applied sciences • an ability to design and conduct experiment, as well as to analyze and interpret data • an ability to formulate or design a system, process or program to meet desired needs • an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams • an ability to identify and solve engineering problems • an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility • an ability to communicate effectively • the broad education necessary to understand the impact of solutions in global and societal context • a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in real life-long learning • a knowledge of contemporary issues • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern scientific and technical tools necessary for professional practice


ABET,  Inc.,  is  the  recognized  U.S.  accreditor  of  college  and  university  programs  in  applied  science,  computing, engineering, and technology. 

In spite of the challenges that inherently exist in the adoption or shift to PBL curricula. 2. culturally as well as physically. The Netherlands. but also in other See Graff. 5 2 .As it is seen. the styles of PBL curricula vary widely among institutions.. a new project-based pedagogical approach in engineering education emerged in the Universities of Roskilde and Aalborg in Denmark. The PBL approach is thought to be well suited especially to medical schools since the skill of life-long learning is critical in this field. Although PBL has not lived up the expectation of bringing about positive changes in the society. The success of this new learning paradigm in the McMaster University encouraged other medical schools to follow this example and embrace PBL in their curriculums. In New Mexico. (2007). Delft University of Technology. Denmark.. As newly founded institutions. A.2 History Problem-based learning (PBL) dates back to early 1970s. OVERVIEW OF PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING This section is based on input from Erik de Graaff. eds. These process skills may be listed as follows: • Problem analysis and problem solving • Project management and leadership • Analytical skills and critical thinking • Dissemination and communication • Interdisciplinary competencies • Intercultural communication • Innovation and creativity • Social abilities • Collaboration How do we meet these demands within engineering education? Is it possible to fulfil academic requirements on engineering qualifications and simultaneously provide for process skills? This report introduces the Problem-Based Learning approach as an answer to this question.. and Anette Kolmos. this new learning paradigm has conquered a prominent place not only in medicine and health sciences. introducing specific ingredients to the characteristics of the PBL according to the surrounding circumstances. interdisciplinary teaching model. 2004). With the realization of PBL in the institution. the curriculum shifted from a faculty-centered to student-centered. E. As a new learning paradigm. each institution must deal with its own and unique evolution. Among the first schools to adopt PBL were the medical schools of Maastrict in the Netherlands and Newcastle in Australia (Graaff and Bouhuijs. there is shift in emphasis from professional skills to process skills. a program in health sciences was started (Kaufman. Sense Publishers. PBL in the engineering education was first implemented and institutionalized by these universities by permeating PBL in the entire establishment phase organizationally. Therefore. As a consequence of these ongoing processes. Implementing a PBL curriculum is demanding both in terms of resources and learner-teacher efforts and involves a gradual adaptation to regional and institutional conditions. and Kolmos. Management of Change – Implementation of Problembased and Project-based Learning in Engineering. Both schools established new PBL models that are widely known and accepted in the world. 1993). PBL was first adopted in the McMaster medical school of Canada. de. Aalborg University. Parallel to the birth and development of PBL in the medical schools. it proved to be an excellent method for developing new forms of competencies (Kolmos et al. 1985). these schools took advantage of identifying their professional objectives first and adopting the educational model that best is best suited to these objectives.

• sounding-board person. 1993. Little. 1995. • content and procedural resource person. Experiments carried out in the Maastrict University indicated that learning in a PBL curriculum is more effective than in a traditional classroom setting due to the emphasis put on the activation of ‘prior knowledge’ in PBL (Schmidt. Ostwald and Kingsland. Negt and Kluge. psychology. economics and architecture all over the world(Albanese and Mitchell. • pointer to additional resources. and reinforces the knowledge through both independent and cooperative group work. Using these as endpoints on a pedagogical continuum. by practical training in coordinating a work group and working effectively as a part of a team. It was also observed that graduates of a PBL curriculum better adapt to changing requirements because they are trained to learn within a relevant context (Post et al. study. researching and filling in the missing knowledge in the type of problems they may encounter in their professional lives.. discuss and propose solutions to (possibly) open-ended problems. The facilitator role requires the instructor to act as a. The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy compared prescriptive and experiential curriculums (see Table 1). 1968. Negt. Prescriptive versus Experimental Curriculum Prescriptive Curriculum Teacher-centered Linear and rational Part to whole organization Teaching as transmitting Learning as receiving Structured environment Experiential Curriculum Student-centered Coherent and relevant Whole to part organization Teaching as facilitating Learning as constructing Flexible environment In a PBL setting. Characteristics of PBL Research has shown that students retain minimal information in the traditional didactic teaching environment and frequently experience difficulty in transferring the acquired knowledge to new experiences (Schmidt. Table 1. law. curriculum or program.professional studies such as engineering. • facilitator of group processes. 1983). Ostwald and Ryan. Characteristics of PBL can be summarized as follows: • Ill-structured. Jansen and van Kammen. 1972. The independent research and learning aspect of the PBL provides the students the skill of identifying. one would place PBL close to the latter. 1988). • Instructor takes the role of a supervisor. 6 . and • learner. 1992. 1983). • Learning is realized in small groups of students who analyze. In a PBL setting the learning process is typically stimulated by discussion in small groups of students. • Learner assessment is enhanced by self and peer assessment. 1976). brings a real-world context in the classroom. Ryan. Schmidt argues that a PBL environment enables students draw upon their prior knowledge and skills. education. 1994. • Learning is student-centered. This provides students with the opportunity to prepare for the professional life. complex problems that are often drawn from the real-world provide the focal points and act as stimuli for the course. the role of the instructor is drastically changed from a lecturer to facilitator. as a coach or facilitator.

A good PBL problem has the following characteristics (Bloom 1956): • Is engaging and oriented to the real-world. a challenge to start them off on their learning process (Norman. Two challenging tasks students encounter in most PBL practices are the processes of reflection and peer assessment. Another critical issue for the faculty is to cope with the role reversal in the classrooms. confidence. denial. • Builds upon previous knowledge/experiences. have difficulty adapting to the concept of self-directed learning and may at first react to the PBL practice with shock. • Promotes development of higher order cognitive skills. The ability to monitor one’s own progress as well as provide credible feedback to colleagues is an important personal and professional skill.One important issue to deal with a PBL conversion is to consider the amount of additional time that will be needed to prepare course materials. anger and resistance. • Requires team effort. The concept of a problem is central to PBL. • Assist students in identifying resources. students must obtain skills not only assessing their own progression in learning. The following process may be recommended to design. the concept and rationale behind the PBL approach could be introduced in an orientation setting. implement and evaluate a problem: • Identify a central idea. • Brainstorm and then outline an ill-structured. • Develop a tutorial guide. particularly freshmen. as follows: 7 . “Are there any assumptions you might be making?” and “What else might you need to know?” PBL also alters the student role in the classroom. • Is consistent with desired learning outcomes. Different types of problems may be designed depending on purpose. also known as self-assessment. Students. Most of the times. • Generates multiple hypotheses. Therefore allocating sufficient amount of time to develop and analyze the problems is essential. To orient students to such drastic changes in the learning environment. • Is ill-structured and complex. Collaboration is an essential skill that is also emphasized in the PBL paradigm since students will most likely be working as members of teams in their prospective workplaces. A critical question in the course of implementing PBL is: what is a problem? A ‘problem’ in PBL is an incentive for students. The independent study brings in considerable collaboration with other students and faculty. PBL encourages students to take responsibility and identify their own learning needs. allows the students to complete the learning cycle via questions such as ‘What did I learn?’. and ‘How can I approach this problem in the future?’. Reflection. train facilitators and determine the means of an authentic student assessment procedure. • Delineate learning outcomes for the problem. most often followed by acceptance and finally. the transfer of pieces of information is replaced by meta-cognitive questions such as “How do you know that?”. complex problem. which facilitates better comprehension of the problem and improved transfer of knowledge to future situations. but also that of their peers. the faculty member now needs to employ various pedagogical approaches to stimulate learning. The selection of problems is critical for the success of the course. ‘What more do I need to know?’. 1986). Students also can be smoothly introduced to the new paradigm through simulated PBL sessions followed by debriefing. concept or principle commonly incorporated in the course. • Divide the problem into stages to allow for progressive disclosure. For effectiveness of PBL. Instead of lecturing. locate the resources and do independent study in the context of a small group.

8 . Open-ended problems promote discussions in the team and are better representatives of real-life problems. Each problem solving session is followed by a short lecture that wraps up the learning outcomes. Parallel Project and Lecture: The project and the courses start at the same time and span the entire semester.Connected to real-world: Problems can be drawn from real-world examples or designed specifically for the discovery of knowledge and skills in the subject. If the problems are well-defined. instead of the regular lecture-problem order. etc. Open-ended: Open-ended problems have multiple possible solutions depending on the assumptions made in the solution process. Specific Problem. The problems are not always drawn from real-world examples. Problem. In real-world scenarios problem specifications in general are not completely specified. The role of the facilitator is to monitor the discovery of knowledge or skills and take corrective action if necessary. i. some institutions prefer to synthesize carefully designed problems that assist a more controlled learning experience. This is followed by a problem solving session that builds on the knowledge obtained from the case study and enables students to independently generalize their knowledge to more complex situations. Case Study. the class is started out and continued with problems. Builds on previous experiences: For success.e. It is mostly agreed that the problems/projects must be incremental. Lecture. PBL must lend itself to piecewise and incremental learning. Each problem must be designed to build on previous knowledge and experiences and add new pieces of information to the students’ knowledge base. Promotes team work: Although PBL is not necessarily realized in teams of students. Problem: A case study is solved with the interaction of the facilitator to ensure the achievement of required learning outcomes. Problem: In this strategy. Level C Problem: The problems are ordered from easier or introductory-level to complex or comprehensive. Specific Problem. and when possible consulting experts. Students are expected to complete the problem specification through discussions. Level B Problem. they may be designed to have a single solution. Ill-structured and complex: Problems can be well-defined or incompletely stated. most applications stress teamwork. Problem. Problem. Level A Problem. Lecture: This strategy can be viewed as the traditional method of teaching with the difference of reversed order of lectures and problem solving sessions. consult faculty and experts to discover ways to attack the problem and conclude their projects with a report and presentation. building on the previous experience or knowledge of the students. researching similar cases. Interaction within a team is an important means of knowledge and skill discovery and transfer in PBL settings. This strategy is used to integrate all courses of a semester with a theme in one big project. Students are given an introductory training in teamwork and project based research and then left on their own to apply their knowledge. open-ended problems is emphasized. The importance of ill-structured. There are various strategies of incorporating PBL into a course: Problem. The class is continued with a comprehensive problem that integrates the previous knowledge for a higher-level understanding. Comprehensive Problem: The class is started with problems that lead to discovery of specific knowledge or skills for each individual topic. Real-world problems help students connect the learning outcomes with the world and increase the motivation to learn.

Kolmos. learning is organized around problems. The Parallel Project and Lecture approach demands the students to become autonomous and accountable problem solvers by assigning each team a complex and comprehensive project without any intermediate level problems. The problem types range in accordance with the learning objectives. 1991). Another important difference between education programs based on problem-based or project-based learning lies in the nature of the product that the students are required to turn in at the end of the period. The challenge to come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan takes the average family physician less than 10 minutes. Savin-Baden. for instance. With projects. Level C Problem strategies. All models accept the fact that problem-based and project-based learning may vary to a certain degree. the Level A Problem. It could be any type of problem. or a theoretical problem. Problem-based learning is mostly referred to as the approach in which learning is stimulated by open-ended and ill-structured problems whereas project-based learning is interpreted as learning through an assignment or task performed by the students. On the other hand. In fact. providing study materials for half a week and in other instances a project could last half a year. Problem-based versus Project-based Learning In the literature. These models focus on learning objectives ranging from narrow subject objectives to gathering interdisciplinary knowledge that is necessary to analyze and solve complex problems. Level B Problem. 1996) suggest making a distinction based on varying degrees of self-direction by the students. 2000) attempt to distinguish between different modes of PBL by suggesting five models of problem-based learning. there is substantial evidence supporting the psychological mechanisms explaining how PBL 9 . in a medical curriculum. Therefore. a design. Therefore. All models of problem and project-based learning are derived from the same pedagogical paradigm. 2003. Most important is that the problem reflects the conditions of professional practice. 2000). 1990). In the context of the former. Level C Problem strategy allows more smooth learning of the subject by starting with the easiest problems and slowly progressing to complex ones. the typical problem is a patient case. the distinction between the problem-based and project-based learning environments lies in the perception of the curriculum component that stimulates the learning. based on the historical development of both methodologies. it makes sense that in some instances cases are relatively short. a project is defined as a unique and complex task requiring more sources than a single person is able to deliver in the allocated time (Algreen-Ussing. inviting people to develop mixed models such as they are practised around the world. The five models proposed by Savin-Baden stand for the extent of diversity in PBL and assist in conceptually bringing together the variations of problem-based and project-based learning practices. In most cases. this usually consists of a finished product. it is important which problems the students are attracted to on the basis of their own experiences and interests. a concrete and realistic problem. Based on the historical development of both problem-based learning and project-based learning. and also the assessment formats differ markedly. many authors pointed out the distinctions between problem-based and projectbased learning approaches (Prince and Felder. Level B Problem. or a report. the assignments that trigger the learning process are generally more authentic than some artificial cases designed for use in PBL. 2006. Graaff and Kolmos (Graaff and Kolmos. In the latter approach. For instance. As such. A problem as incentive for the learning processes is a central principle to enhance students’ motivation.It is observed that most institutions prefer either Parallel Project and Lecture or Level A Problem. The common element in problem and project-based learning is that in both cases. much depends on the context in which the assignment is presented to the students. The bigger engineering projects involve many years and thousands of men. a product is often at the centre of a rating system. from limited sets of ‘right’ solutions to open-ended and ill-structured problem domains. the various models are based on the same type of principles of learning (Boud and Feletti. The point that should not be missed here is that it is not just the problem that governs the learning process. Savin-Baden (Savin-Baden.

Written case histories provided prior to class. 1980) . PBL versus Other Active Learning Strategies Teaching Strategy Lecture Case-based Case method Modified case method Problemfocused Problem-based Description Information presented and discussed by faculty instructor. 10 . The team learning aspect underpins the learning process as a social act where learning takes place through dialogue and communication. the formulation of the problem. which may span across traditional subject-related boundaries and methods. which indicates who has the ownership of the learning process and. The contents approach concerns especially interdisciplinary learning. Content and concepts relevant to learning a key component. especially. PBL focuses more on what students do. with PBL. 1992). It is a central principle for the development of motivation. Graaff and Kolmos (2003) have summarized the main learning principles in three approaches: learning – contents . Incomplete. Drawing upon Barrows’ work (Barrows and Tamblyn. Exemplary practice in the sense of learning outcome is exemplary to the overall objectives. written information provided and studied prior to Sometimes additional information provided in class. 2001). The uniqueness of each is in the presentation of the problem. The social approach also covers the concept of participant-directed learning. Problem-based Learning versus Other Active Learning Strategies Savin-Badin (2000) delved into the differences between PBL and other teaching strategies. Students provided with a simulated problem/ (Norman and Schmidt. Within groups. only the problem is provided. But the students are not only learning from each other – they also learn to share knowledge and organize the process of collaborative learning. The social approach is team-based learning. The differences between case-based and problem-based learning can be difficult to ascertain. rather than what the faculty do (MacDonald and Issacs. Written case histories provided prior to lecture and followed with in-class discussion about content and concepts. determination made as to additional information needed. A problem makes up the starting point for the learning processes and places learning in context and base learning on the learner’s experience. the problem is accompanied by resource materials and questions. Table 2. written information provided and studied prior to class. she delineated the basics associated with several active learning strategies (see Table 2). Focus is on identifying learning issues applicable to resolution of the problem. studied and then discussed in class (typically in small groups) Incomplete. The learning approach as problem and project-based learning means that learning is organized around problems. With case-based.

A full semester is 30 ECTS points. 1999). and the same model is followed from the first semester until the completion of a masters’ degree (tenth semester). and use of resources are just some of the differences that are often mentioned when project work at different institutions is compared. During the span of the university degree program. and new problems will always be in focus. The students are allowed to formulate their project proposal themselves. open theme or a subject-related limited theme. placing in the study program. In each semester the project and the majority of the courses must relate to the theme of the actual semester. The curriculum is organized into semesters –10 semesters leading to a Master’s degree. Within a specific theme projects can and do change from year to year. The structure of the curriculum is fundamentally progressive. equivalent to 24 ECTS. The examination is a joint group examination with individual marks and takes up to six hours. The subject. and as the projects selected will be a combination of (1) proposals from industry.3. Although the typical project lasts five months. the groups normally become smaller. for instance 11 . and (3) interests among staff etc. extent. problem-based learning as it is implemented at Aalborg University is described in the booklet “The Aalborg Experiment – project innovation in university education” (Kjærsdam and Enemark. Each group has one or several supervisors (faculty member). Denmark This section is based on input from Anette Kolmos. Aalborg University. 1994. (2) interests among students. where a supervisor and an external or an internal examiner is present. even though the purpose and the content of the theme is well prescribed using Bloom’s taxonomy of learning depth (Bloom. and the Faculty of Engineering and Science. the curriculum is very flexible and can follow the scientific development and integrate application of new research results. variations in the students’ liberty of choice. PBL BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLES This section gives some PBL best practice examples. public administration. The role of the supervisor is to respond to the students’ project process along the way and to take the group through to the examination. which can be a broad. The students are supposed to attend the courses and apply them in their project work.. The rest of the semester includes fundamental courses or other compulsory courses (study courses) assessed by more traditional examinations. PBL is used in all study programs at Aalborg University within the Faculty of Humanities. Aalborg University. A theme covers a great variation of problems. In nearly all programs the project work corresponds to half of the students’ time. The traditional Aalborg model is founded on problem-based project work. the relation between courses and project. 3. whereas the other half is spent on more or less traditional lectures. Therefore. starting with typically 6-7 students in the first year. and in addition each step in this progression implies a large degree of flexibility. the form of examinations. The project work is formulated within the framework of the given theme. 1956). in which approximately one half of the students' time is spent on project work in teams. related to the overall educational objectives. The examination is a group examination. Project-organized. but there is always a supervisor who approves the proposal. there are exceptions. It should be noted that there many other examples all over the World which are not included in here. In some programs. group size. and reduced to maximum 2-3 students in the final semester. The work with the project report and the courses covers approximately 80% of the semester. The project-based model varies considerably in practice. Denmark and Flemming Fink.1 Aalborg University. For a more comprehensive investigation please refer to web resources given in the Appendix. educational objectives. etc. the Faculty of Social Science. Fink. All project work is made in groups. organized in a very deterministic structure with a very well-prescribed output. Denmark. and the output of the courses is assessed along with the project report at the end of the semester.

But the group sizes also vary from department to department. Starting with the first students in 1974 the Medical Faculty of Maastricht University in the Netherlands was among the first to apply the principles of problem-based learning at the level of an entire curriculum. because that approach suits the educational objectives better. including the implementation and the curriculum formulation: • The themes can be defined in different ways as themes describing various types of problems. traditions and culture of the various departments. The Netherlands. At some of the languages studies the students are offered a number of courses and they are free to choose 2-3 courses and write their project within in the framework of these courses. which support the objectives of the project and the project itself. • The relation between courses and project will depend on the understanding of knowledge. The staff-member supervising the sessions (the tutor) did not need to be an expert with respect to the issues at hand. More variations can be mentioned. the students work with a series of shorter projects of less extent. For example there are large differences in the relation between courses and project at the Faculty of Engineering and Science. or in other cases it is a question of turning the learning process in a certain direction. The theme was introduced to the students by means of problems. In the open situation the students are supposed to prepare and word the problems and the projects themselves. The preclinical phase of the Maastricht medical curriculum consisted of thematic blocks. In the course of this process they found out where they were lacking important information. skills training and practice orientation were scheduled. Delft University. and the language study programs at The Faculty of Humanities. • The extent of project supervision varies a lot and is carried out in different ways. The understanding of the educational principles varies from department to department. In some programs the problem must be a dilemma or a social discrepancy. in other programs the problem will be an issue calling for an engineering solution. the formulation of learning principles and learning philosophies is an essential part in the development of models. with variations being allowed within a given framework. meeting twice a the Department of Architecture and Design. In addition to the small group-work. There must be some core principles. and in the more controlled situation the teachers make the preparation and wording. • The definition of a problem can vary between professional areas. An important characteristic of the original Maastricht PBL model is the thematic organization replacing the traditional array of disciplines and majors.2 Maastricht University. • The group sizes vary from first semester and up to tenth semester with more students in the groups at the beginning of the study. descriptions of patient cases or other phenomena related to the current theme. or as themes directed towards certain subjects. Therefore. • The choice of projects can be based on open or more controlled problem formulations depending on the educational objectives and the understanding of “problem-based”. resulting in the formulation of learning goals. • The definition of the various phases of the project may vary depending on the subject in question. Students were expected to elaborate their prior knowledge. A large proportion of study time was set aside for independent selfstudy. The Netherlands This section is based on input from Eric de Graaff. 12 . and the above are just presented to illustrate that there are variations in the concrete execution of the model. and these variations affect aspects of the program. At the Faculty of Engineering and Science the students attend project courses. Students had to analyze the problems in small groups (8-10 students). 3.

project work and the learning process. PBL is not found to be more advantageous than the traditional class environment in building the students’ knowledge base. The tuition languages offered are Danish and English. management. the self reflection and peer assessments are carried out as well as faculty and course assessments. etc. Denmark This section is based on input from Hans Hansen. all with different background in terms of nationality. useful links and contact information. information on how PBL is implemented in seven different faculties. technology. cultural and educational background. construction. defined and recorded and they do form the framework and references platform for the future group work. A project based learning process within this course program should comprise traditional academic subjects. languages. The assessments made in the General Sciences Faculty have shown that the PBL approach is specifically useful to improve skills such as learning programming languages. Nearly from day 1 of the study program – after a short introduction – students are forming project groups of 3 to 4 members. The project agreed upon constitutes the leading theme throughout the semester. The Maastricht model has been used widely as an example and a basis to contrast the PBL approach of other institutions and all aspects of the Maastricht PBL model have been researched extensively. As an example taken from the fifth semester. Vitus Bering University College in Denmark is offering Architectural Technology and Construction Management degree program. Right from the beginning the group and the allocated lecturers agree on a design project to be defined and carried out throughout the semester. Denmark. A semester comprises 20 weeks. the PBL homepage brings various resources together and makes them publicly accessible. later Law and Economics followed. Vitus Bering University College. Naturally the project is deemed to be relevant to the applicable course program. However. team building aspects. meaning that students should regard the project as a meaningful and motivating contribution to their learning process and the development of their academic and personal qualifications. The distribution of project work and theory lessons in average is 50% project work and 50% lectures. such as mathematics. The project always has a multi disciplinary scope aiming at increasing complexity and maintaining a holistic approach. To realize this objective. specifications. Each semester. knowledge sharing as well as interactive learning activities. In each case the PBL model was adapted to suit the needs of the particular field of study. Among these are PBL course materials.The success of the Maastricht Medical School allowed Maastricht University to expand into other professions. but also strong emphasis on interpersonal qualifications like group work relations. publications.3 Vitus Bering University College. working discipline and ethics. writing reports. Vitus Bering University College. cooperation. calculations and planning of a renovation and refurbishment project (housing). The project work is supported by relevant theory lessons promoting and underpinning the learning process and the development of the project. Denmark. The PBL homepage in the Maastricht University is developed to keep in touch with the other institutions and disseminate the PBL experiences of the university. computer applications etc. Objectives and outcomes are being discussed. and Jan Uwe Wolff. either involving the entire project group or individuals. First a faculty of Health Sciences was established. a group project could comprise design. mathematical problem solving. team work. Lectures are normally given to groups of 15 to 30 students.. The project work is guided (coached) and supervised. physics. 13 . hosting more than 800 full time students. being a combination of lecturers and project work in groups. 3.

The first part is fairly easy to implement whereas the second part can be extremely difficult to control. Experience shows that group work in that respect can be difficult and rather energy consuming due to a number of factors: • Different ambitions amongst group members • Different knowledge on technologies causing discussions and . In case of disputes within the group regarding the presence/absence and all efforts of individual group members the minutes may be used as evident supporting possible allegations. What to keep recorded in the study journal is very much an individual decision. The study journal is a personal tool to be used in order to improve the study process. analyse and select project activities and also to monitor and quality assure the communication within the group and the different tasks to be carried out by group members. to agree on common objectives and to pursue these objectives. planning and coordination of team based project works will be a part of the daily life of engineers. In the mentioned project meetings. The minutes will serve as the group’s documentation for the work carried out during the semester. These evaluations will of course be put into use. Additionally the minutes will account for whatever issues the group has chosen to focus on. evident that the content is largely focusing on the personal evaluation of own efforts as well as the evaluation regarding the professional outcome of the tuition/study. Moreover. to plan.consensus or compromises • Language deficiencies. From the above it may be deduced that the study journal . The coordination of the group work can be achieved partly by writing down agreed rules. where working in teams. In general the minutes will account for the development of the project and the learning process since the previous meeting. In order to achieve this it is necessary to continuously coordinate the work.hopefully . that group work can be very difficult if it is not handled correctly from the outset. One method that may be used in controlling the latter part is to hold regular project meetings within the group (at least once a week).Every student is obliged to keep record of his/her study and learning process by using a logbook (or study journal). Reading the “Study Guide” the students will learn that the predominant working method in most of the semesters will be project work carried out in groups. the ‘real life’ situation. however. which will apply to the group work.may also be used to make notes concerning the efforts of the group and maybe the evaluation of contribution and efforts of fellow group members. Lack of such notes will prevent group members from contributing constructively in the discussion and in making decisions. minutes must be taken. In summary. the logbook is a tool for students to help focusing and keeping attention to their own learning process. Whether the latter will be the case or not depends on the rules agreed upon within the group.apart from containing notes on own efforts and progress . This development will of course include the efforts of the individual group member in relation to the defined objectives and subsequently planned activities. that is. and partly by securing that the rules are observed. Studying the proposed agenda listed in the study journal it is. It is therefore of utmost importance that notes/minutes are taken regularly. 14 . it is a working method reflecting their future professional jobs. • Different meeting and working culture • Different cultural background in general. A very important issue when working in a group is to find a suitable “working rhythm” and to keep in step. In order to keep track of the progress in these meetings students will use their own notes from the study journal as the basis for their input. Experience shows however.

Here we give an overview of the experience in the software engineering course.4 Işık University. The majority of our international students are not used to this kind of work and study. and developing written and oral communication skills. This is one of the most important courses in the curriculum. It should be mentioned again here. Evaluations focusing on both the learning process of each individual student.However. The marks may very well differ from one student to another within the same group. The efficiently working group even get much further in their studies and personal development than any individual student could ever manage to do. The course has several goals. that only about 50% of the students’ workload is dedicated to project work and thereby to the ‘dreadful’ group work. developing fluency in using certain software tools including CASE tools and social software tools. how they shared the work load. The course work requires the use of knowledge acquired in 15 . minutes of meetings etc. On completion of the semester the project work is assessed. Individual marks are given. at least partly. how they learned from each other. Students present their project work including drawings. whereas the remaining 50% of the studies are provided to the students in a more traditional way as taught classes. developing skills to work in teams. but also focusing on how they managed to work together in the group. But each student will be assessed individually in order to disclose individual competences in terms of academic subjects. However. this “terrible” experience with group work seems to be mostly in the beginning of the course programs. Department of Computer Engineering at Işık University uses PBL in certain courses including the junior level database systems course. From more than 60% of the students’ evaluation reports we notice that the worst or most difficult part of the studies is the group work. Each semester of the program contains two comprehensive evaluations. but also in order to prove the development of soft skills and personal qualifications achieved and trained during the previous group work sessions. objectives. Turkey This section is based on input from Selahattin Kuru. including learning a software development methodology. Even though they may sign a group work contract in the beginning of a semester including time schedule. and special project course and the senior level software engineering course. time schedule. this is exactly the purpose of the prescribed group work: to develop a professional attitude to the act of working together in teams. they face the problems when implementing a set of rules. how they organised themselves in terms of group leadership. specifications. calculations and sketches to a panel of examiners both from Vitus Bering as well as external examiners predominantly professionals invited from private companies like consulting companies or contractors. After some semesters and to those who are familiar with this pattern of studies the benefits become more and more clear. Işık University. 3. The senior level software engineering course is a problem-based project-oriented course. Students may present their project work as a joint group presentation. They feel – especially in the beginning – uncomfortable by sharing their knowledge with others and being dependent on other group members’ knowledge and work discipline. That the group work itself causes problems and sometimes frustration amongst group members is beyond any doubt. Işık University PBL experience is limited to course level. Turkey. Several interviews with international students from many different cultures over the last years confirm that working in groups is difficult but something one has to get used to. focusing on results and problem solving in an efficient way regardless of differences in culture and personalities. work discipline and sanctions. depending on the individual performance during the assessment.

Google docs and spreadsheets for shared document production. The instructor meets with the students in class for three hours every week.basically all courses in the previous semesters of the curriculum. that is. working in teams of 5. is the software product itself together with final documentation. Each team is assigned a different software development project. and CASE tools. typically 4 to 6 hours every week. and does the lectures. del. Typical tools used in the course include Wordpress for weblogging. As stated. The case study is a software development project illustrated by the instructor in the class. The deliverable is of document nature in the first 8 weeks. which may rotate among team members. These include communication tools. which is delivered at the end of the semester. Each team has a team leader. In other words. The instructor does the overall coordination of the course. which is the same type of a deliverable to be developed by the students for their projects.g. lecture and project work. various email tools. A one hour meeting is held with every project team every week. Development is done using a well defined methodology. Students learn software development by developing a software product. The software product is usually some application software. in the sense that the type of deliverable worked on weekly in the case study and in the project is the same. depending on familiarity with tools and popularity of tools. each software team develops a different software product. The methodology requires development and delivery of a deliverable in each of a series of successive phases. the instructor and the teaching assistant. Flashmeeting for teleconferencing. that is at week 14. The deliverable is produced in electronic form using a shared work space software. leads the discussion of the case study in class. In the lectures the instructor introduces technical and non-technical (e. The student develops analysis. The teaching assistant deals with the project. Evaluation is done by the teaching assistant and by the students (peer evaluation). The class meets three hours a week. The case study is strictly synchronized with the project. Students evaluate the deliverables 16 . The work to be done to produce the deliverable is then divided into parts and distributed among team members. Project team members devote a considerable amount of time to the project. The teaching assistant evaluates deliverables (group evaluation) and performance of individual students every week. organizational) background knowledge in software engineering to the students. The course has three components: case study. The main component is the project. every week a deliverable is illustrated and discussed in the case study. She acts both as a coach and as an evaluator for the project team. Individual team members work on their parts of the production of the delivery by themselves. The specific tools may change to some extend from team to team and from year to year. which is in this case iterative objectoriented development. office tools. In the remaining weeks more time is devoted to lectures.icio. In other words it involves the development of a software product just like in student projects. The final delivery. shared workspace tools and CASE tools. The project team brings the deliverable of that week to the meeting and the deliverable is discussed in the meeting. A number of tools are used by the project for bookmarking. The work cycle for every week is as follows: The team meets and discusses the deliverable of that week. synthesis and design skills in this course. The case study and the lecture help students build the necessary background knowledge for doing the project. In the first 8 weeks typically two hours is devoted to the case study and one hour to lectures. Evaluation of student work is based on project work. typically two hours are allocated to the case study and one hour to the lecture. A final meeting is held to review the deliverable before bringing it to the meeting with the teaching assistant. In each phase a specific aspect of the development is addressed and a specific deliverable is produced and delivered. Two types of facilitators are involved.

the web site offered numerous possibilities for interaction among students. step by step. it is possible to perform virtual exercises that lead. there are several courses with theoretical and practical aspects. In the Didactic Laboratory of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Within the Faculty of Engineering. Registered users could perform real measurements by accessing several laboratories in which measuring instruments are interfaced with personal computers.produced by other groups (group evaluation) and the performance of their team mates in their groups (individual performance). a web site was created. to the final “real” exercise. Furthermore. Italy This section is based on input from Luca Podesta. However. These exercises are practiced on a daily basis. they can perform virtual measurements by accessing a library of experimental exercises accompanied with theoretical explanations. it is also possible to make a careful theoretical study through available documents. teachers and tutors.5 University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. The proposed method prepares students to perform real experiments in the laboratory and improves the quality of the acquired 17 . As a friendly environment for the exchange of information. Due to the limited time available. a web-based laboratory system has many advantages that overcome such problems: students are able to connect easily to remote measurement systems and perform experimental exercises stipulated by the measurements courses. how to improve the experience about real instruments? The web-based laboratory seems to be so far from the real instruments. If necessary. Table 3. But. Evaluation Scheme Who evaluate s Teaching Assistant Students What is evaluated Basis of evaluation (Group / Individual) Group Individual Group Individual Scope of evaluation All groups All groups All groups except hers Students in her group Deliverable of the week Individual performance of students Deliverable of the week Individual performance of students 3. Didactic laboratories confront the specific problems of having to manage a large number of students with a limited number of workstations. students can choose freely the time to perform the experimental exercises. practical exercises for the courses in Electrical and Electronic Measurements are performed. The experimental laboratory is a very important component of courses in Electrical and Electronic Measurements. As web-based studying is not dependent on time and place. If students encounter difficulties. Because students needed to access the exercises at a later time. the measuring workstation is dismantled in preparation for a new exercise. In contrast. at the end of every exercise. Students are able to perform experimental exercises and repeat them freely without being limited by the opening hours of the laboratory. Moreover. The quality of learning was improved and it was a valid integration for face-to-face situations. Italy. University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. The evaluation scheme is given in Table 3. A system has been proposed based on a virtual environment that allows the student to perform a self-assessment. University of Rome “La Sapienza”. students cannot assess whether their level is adequate to perform the experimental exercises. usually students are not able to attain the appropriate knowledge and skill.

These didactical system have been used within a PBL-course in Electrical Measurements.knowledge. 18 . An analysis on the causes of failure of the didactic goal of laboratory tests revealed the relevance of training students to use the instruments in the laboratory effectively. It gives a score which is entered in a prefixed file that represents the user’s evaluation. Students become active participants of education and in this way they activate the process of continuous education. It was important to help the students understand that the program’s goal was to allow them to access the laboratory training freely and that each student’s score is an indicator of the student’s knowledge which is mainly useful to the user himself. Işık University. 3. a well-defined minimum score). At the end of the virtual didactic itinerary. students can advance to the real exercise and gain access to the laboratory. Following the above considerations. All these problems weaken the didactical strength of the laboratory experiments. In the application of PBL students are more motivated and there is more participation. For this reason. The main target seemed to be that of changing the students’ attitude from a passive one to an active one. “How to measure a resistance?”. Otherwise they must work through the exercises in the simulator again. Laboratory experiments represent the first contact many students have with real instruments and they are afraid to make mistakes or damages. at the very moment in which the theories are introduced in the classroom). the students recognized the utility of a specific training before the real laboratory. essential to face the rapid changes in science and technology. students are allowed to enter the real laboratory only when they have obtained a sufficient overall evaluation (i.6 Other Examples This section is based on input from Taner Eskil.e. Furthermore. students’ access to the laboratory is limited by its operating hours and the tutor’s availability. If the score is over a minimum mark. As far as the impact of the new didactical system is concerned.e. there is little learning and the knowledge the students acquire is unstable. Turkey. Every exercise in the virtual system is simulated by means of a LabVIEW virtual instrument. With this aim. Students’ learning and knowledge have also improved. To help the students approach the real experimental setups gradually. thanks to the availability of the system in the website of the didactic laboratory. As there are too many students needing to access the laboratory applications. for example. the system proposes exercises based on measurements with simulated instruments through LabVIEW and offers an analysis of the results. experimental practice with real instruments cannot be developed neither autonomously nor in a short time. it seemed necessary to change the practical part of the Electrical and Electronic Measurements course. students are told the final score obtained during the execution of the exercise. in which the starting point is. Moreover. only a few are able to perform the experimental exercises ‘live’ (i. Students can repeat the exercises freely and train themselves with the “Virtual Laboratory” whenever they want. he would not move even the mouse due to his fear of failure. This resulted in a significant reduction in the use of laboratory resources (about 50% less compared to the past) although the virtual laboratory forces the students to spend more time on the simulated exercises. At the final step. The program carries out two different indexes of evaluation on the students—level of knowledge on specific matters and overall knowledge. a virtual system was introduced to orientate the students before they execute real experiments in the laboratory by means of a PBL-approach. the students are able to decide how to manage their time in accordance to their needs. As a result. It is also noted that most students are passive towards real laboratory experiments and many do not participate because they don’t know how to take measurements with the instruments. The student’s awareness and effectiveness in the laboratory increased significantly. especially towards practical activities. If the student thought he was taking an exam. Students must log into the program to access the simulated exercise and follow some predefined steps which reproduce the real conditions of the practical exercises.

Next.Pennsylvania State University. University of Manchester. The courses are designed to have simple to complex problems. PBL is a cooperative. They are at this point capable of not only investigating the questions posed by others. The results of these surveys are yet to be published. students mostly complained about not having crisply defined tasks that determine their grades. The Enquiry-Based Learning Initiative was started in year 2005 with the aim of making PBL a key ingredient of the curricula by year 2015. The aim of a self-efficacy survey is to find a measure of one’s own judgment to accomplish a task under varying. students identify the issues and questions in a given scenario. they research the resources and locate and acquire the needed knowledge. At the completion of a PBL module. but also formulating their own research questions and convert their studies into useful knowledge. UK University of Manchester uses Enquiry-Based Learning. real-world scenarios. Teams consist of eight to ten students. According to this definition. self-directed. It is argued that posing the problem before showing the solution method produces better motivation. There is also a Core Team or the Hub that is responsible for orchestrating the PBL practice with these four faculties. In spite of this resistance. On the other hand. Life Sciences. Student assessments have shown that students can be overly anxious about curricular changes. discouraging conditions. According to some employers. The Chemical Engineering Department adopts the PBL definition as introduced by the Medical School of McMaster University. it was observed that the first PBL graduates felt more confident in their first jobs. “Learning for solving a problem” also found to result in a better retention and recall of knowledge. Open-ended problems are selected with a consideration to allow multiple intellectually valid responses in the allocated time constraint. Medical and Human Sciences. USA The Penn State Information Sciences and Technology (IST) Initiative was started in years 20002002. Humanities. 19 . The motto of Enquiry-Based Learning initiative is “learning is driven by a process of enquiry owned by the student”. Some student reaction and reluctance was observed in the first years of the initiative. students reach a higher level of abstract thinking. the first graduates of the program rated the new curriculum with very high marks. McMaster University. This type of learning is found to be retained longer since it is acquired through a real problem solving experience. The institution is currently trying to test students’ performance using self-efficacy surveys. Canada The Chemical Engineering Department in the McMaster University incorporates PBL in one junior and one senior level course in the program. The problems are selected carefully to build upon students’ previous knowledge and skills. The curriculum is designed to assign one major project to each team of students in four faculties Engineering and Physical Sciences. This initiative required the PBL to be the underlying method for most IST courses. The courses start with made-up small problems and continue with higher complexity problems to open-ended. these graduates also adapted faster and found more opportunities to promote in the firm. The problems are also selected to build upon students’ earlier knowledge and skills. The web site for the initiative has detailed information on PBL based course design. since the students know why they are learning the new knowledge. cooperating and creating. complex. Under the guidance of a facilitator. Instructors also reported that students searched for “what the instructor wants” rather than researching.

In other words. To realize such a dissection of knowledge. physics and programming program were redesigned to accommodate PBL in the curriculum. With this training. Instructors choose their teaching strategy according to the guidelines outlined by the CTLS. Another way to assess the learning session is to use minute papers. each of which are accompanied by a tutor or an instructor. each PBL session must build on previous experiences and lend itself to incremental learning. unsatisfactory skills in mathematical reasoning. The incorporation of PBL in the program is course-based rather than holistic. Samford University. Focused listing starts with a single most important concept and guides the students to list the related concepts and pinpoint the focus point. This program consists of 5 regular courses. USA PBL was initiated in the Samford University in 1998. For assessment. one must start with the common knowledge asset. with the founding of Center for Teaching. Focused listing helps students keep their attention on the focus of the session and the related subjects. the department chose to eliminate the tutor’s role by giving the “tutor orientation” to the students instead. instructors may prefer to give empty or partially filled outlines for the students to fill in what they learn in one session. 20 . which are short essays to answer questions such as “What was the focus of the class?” and “Which question was left unanswered?”. the students are prepared to guide their own research. The first two years of mathematics. to be autonomous and accountable. Mexico Experience in Mexican higher education has shown that the traditional learning environments result in a low retention of knowledge. all research in the most general sense is also PBL. in which the students write a short response to the topics that are left unclear at the end of the session. McMaster Medical School model consists of groups of 5 students. PBL is incorporated in two courses in the program. The university also offers a theme school program. and low motivation of students towards learning of the course contents. The teaching strategy in these courses is to present the students specific problems followed by one comprehensive problem. 3 seminar courses and 2 research internships. concurrent with conventional teaching in other courses. As stated above. Principia Project. The memory matrices are used for organizing the information or illustrating the relationships that exist in the new information. it is also suggested that any scenario that poses the problem before learning starts may be called PBL. misconception/preconception check aims to assess any prior beliefs that could obstruct learning. However. Each session is ended with the muddiest point practice. All regular courses in the program follow PBL throughout the semester. Learning and Scholarship (CTLS) to assist professors in transition to the new learning paradigm. To accommodate PBL in these large classes. The course perceptions questionnaire has shown that students assess the theme school program one to two standard deviations more positive than their own departments. While background knowledge probes and focused listing help students to bring to light their previous knowledge. which consists of courses from different disciplines and students can choose to take them as overload. The Chemical Engineering department on the other hand has classes of up to 300 students. The web site created for the center includes a comprehensive overview of different PBL approaches and course design guidelines for instructors. The students are given background knowledge probes – short examinations in the beginning of the semester and before introduction of each important new topic – to assess the knowledge base of the students. They are two-dimensional diagrams which are filled by the students to provide feedback to the instructor for quick and easy analysis of the outcomes of the session. The enrolment in the PBL curriculum was left voluntary for the students.interdependent and self-assessed learning environment that is realized in small groups.

the assessments of the courses by the students are carried out.. Anxiety comes from change and uncertainty as to efficacy of PBL.. This is relevant to the success of PBL as you will not have sufficient time to cover all content down to the absolute "need to know. faculty or department need to decide if PBL is in alignment with their respective teaching and learning philosophies. such as in courses or units of courses. personnel. Frequently. but attention was drawn to voluntary enrolment in the PBL curricula. eds. Biggs. unit or module. Delft University of Technology. and Kolmos. (2007). and orientations for the students. 1993. implementing and evaluating PBL • Exploring the essential content. One should be aware that PBL can take more time than traditional teaching strategies. Then the permanent teams are formed and a more complex problem is assigned. 4. These results show that the students in the PBL curriculum have a worse attitude towards programming and physics and a better attitude towards mathematics and education. The extent of incorporation of PBL in the curriculum depends on financial and personnel resources as well as time constraints and the readiness of faculty and students. open-ended and thus take more time for students to process. See Graff. One should examine resources and should ensure students have access to the personnel and materials they will need. 2001. like lectures. Initiating PBL within a curriculum can create anxiety for administrators. de. The Netherlands3. faculty and students. A. Determining an assessment method is critical in this process." • Developing templates/prototype PBL problem that will serve as a guide for PBL problem development. This should be eliminated by explanations regarding the use of PBL and provide to all relevant constituents of the curriculum. financial) and facilities place constraints on the breadth and depth of PBL use. provisions for faculty development. PBL can be a portion of the curricular instruction process. problems are complex. The following initial steps may be taken while changing to PBL at curriculum level: • Deciding to change to PBL • Centralizing the curriculum management of PBL • Determining who has the power and authority for designing. It was shown that there is a statistically significant improvement in the performance in future Probability and Oral Communications classes. Denmark. resources (i. Aalborg University. The PBL students also are found to have higher GPA. The California Critical Thinking Skills test results indicated a better performance but not statistically significant improvement compared to the students in the traditional curriculum. Several authors proposed models for such a change (Fullan. E. At the last stage projects are assigned. CHANGING TO PBL This section is based on input from Anette Kolmos. Erik de Graaff. which are ill-structured and open-ended projects.. Change in teaching and learning approach at institutional level is a complex process. 2004. Sense Publishers. 21 3 . Novice learners require more structure and time to approach and solve problems. Henriksen et al. the entire focus or a curriculum or only within a course.The courses in the Principia Project start with exercises that are studied in transitory teams. Management of Change – Implementation of Problembased and Project-based Learning in Engineering. At the end of each semester. Different strategies may be followed in changing to PBL at curriculum level. Each school.e. PBL can be incorporated in the entire curriculum or at a component level.

self-directed learning strategies. anxiety. and physical factors of frame (including the prerequisites of the teacher). implementation phase (staff development program. 5. 2002. empowering others to act on the vision. Graaff and Mierson. PBL is both a curriculum and a process. Little reflection on the task of teaching exists in traditional organizations in higher education. CONCLUSION Problem-based learning is an instructional method where students "learn to learn. PBL alters traditional teaching and learning patterns. Morgan and Roberts. Kolmos." working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. including vision. sabotage or treadmill. The success of changing to PBL depends on the faculty to adapt the educational method to the needs. Also pointed out is the need for change agents. Gynnild and Roxå (2004) point out that neither bottom-up nor top-down strategies are sufficient for successful change. 2004). The process of presenting a topic so that students assimilate the various pieces of knowledge and hopefully apply them to personal and professional problems have not been shown to be effective. and institutional state which is the final state of the change process. Kotter. 1995): establishing a sense of urgency. communicating the vision. The introduction of PBL curriculum can help to break down traditional boundaries. 1993. forming a powerful guiding coalition. and physical prerequisites for learning. if the change starts from the bottom. These factors/elements include. 1995. PBL can enhance students' achievement of • adaptation and participation in change. depending on the missing factor. Him and Hippe. Kolmos. Moesby (2004) has developed a model for implementation of change to PBL in higher education covering four phases: investigation phase (pre-action activities). These models stress the complexity and difficulty in such a change and identify factors/elements to take into account. the staff has to be trained in order to learn to function effectively in the new situation. psychological. arguing that bottom-up strategies are not efficient since change at a system level requires a decision at top-level. if the change starts from the top. and team participation skills. 22 . cultural. and institutionalizing new approaches. the assessment procedures and the methods of reporting results. otherwise the result is confusion. social. change agents must be found among involved staff members. communication of the results). and points out that only if all of these factors exist then change can occur as desired. 2002. 2005. Kolmos. depending on the model. frustration. the rules and procedures to follow. The role of change agents is to motivate staff and to lead the change process by pushing the whole time. 1997. resistance. and action plan. PBL allows students to explore relevant sources of knowledge. Thousand and Villa (1995) identify six factors for managing complex change. problem solving proficiency. change agents must be found in the top. creating a vision. cultural. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically. resources. incentives. skills. adoption phase (formulation of vision. and to find and use appropriate learning resources. Successful educational leadership assumes the responsibility of making decisions that are necessary for the organization to survive in a competitive world. the climate of interaction with students.Khoo 2001. The curriculum consists of problems that demand from the learner acquisition of critical knowledge. the student’s social. planning for and creating shortterm wins. the teaching/learning methods/process. and op-down strategies are not efficient as they create much resistance in the system. Gynnild and Roxå. Him and Hippe. and goals for learning the curriculum. consolidating improvements and producing still more change. In the course of the introduction process. evaluation program). the institutional climate. Kotter has developed a model for change based on eight steps (Kotter. consensus. An important advantage of the introduction of PBL is that it entails a new way of thinking about education and learning. defining criteria of success.

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videos. By far the most useful feature of this site is the PBL Clearinghouse which is a searchable collection of many peer reviewed problems.htm http://www. The site also includes an extensive bibliography.pbli. There are also a number of sample problems taken mainly from the Queens University Ontario School of Medicine The Queens University Ontario. This casebook discusses the many aspects of writing good quality problems and includes many examples drawn mainly from the biomedical and biological McMaster University McMaster University in Canada has a long tradition in PBL. http://www. The section which deserves a closer look is How? which provides free access to the in-house journal ‘PBL Insight’ which is a source of some useful articles and invites submissions from authors. the book is generic enough to ensure that this is widely applicable and could be potentially useful to those new to the subject.samford. http://www. Why? and all subsections are fairly standard stuff.udel. Where?. This could be another good starting point for academics new to PBL. The ‘Learning Tree’ section provides comprehensive coverage of the subject and is particularly strong on assessment. It contains a range of books. One staff member. School of Medicine PBL site contains a downloadable version of ‘The PBL Handbook’ which is a useful guide to many aspects of PBL. The list of books links directly to reviews or publishers. PK Rangachari. The bibliography is very comprehensive. http://www.html University of Delaware The University of Delaware site is extremely useful.html Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction 40 . Once into the Clearinghouse users can search by keyword. author or discipline.htm University of Samford Center for Problem-Based Learning The University of Samford Center for Problem-Based Learning organizes their site under What?. Who?. There is also an invitation to become an author or reviewer.html San Diego State University Distributed Course Delivery for PBL The San Diego State University Distributed Course Delivery for PBL site provides an on-line workshop in PBL which could form the basis of do-it-yourself staff development. PBL modules and patient simulations to buy in medical education. When?. http://meds. There are several full-text articles as well as back-issues of the in-house journal ‘About Teaching’ which features many articles on PBL. implementation and overcoming barriers and obstacles.pbli. http://www. has some very useful advice related to writing problems in his ‘Writing Problems: A Personal Casebook’.org/ http://www.sdsu.APPENDIX: WEB RESOURCES Problem-based Learning Initiative at Southern Illinois University The Problem-based Learning Initiative at Southern Illinois University concentrates mainly on Medical education but is very useful for the basics such as the essential requirements for PBL. The Clearinghouse is accessed via an email user name and password but these are available easily and you can be signed up within minutes. Although the examples used to illustrate the handbook are drawn from medicine.

sg/schoolscentres/ced. in order to facilitate international collaboration. http://www.rp.aspx UNESCO CHAIR for Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning in Engineering at Aalborg University UCPBL at Aalborg University web site has a comprehensive PBL library. The site includes a comparative analysis of PBL within physics. coaches and course The University of Leicester heads the project consortium. The site does not yet contain much information relevant to physical sciences but it could grow into a useful resource.dist. and Sheffield as Project LeAP Project LeAP (Problem-Based Learning in Astronomy and Physics) is a three-year project. and original PBL case studies.psu.html Problem-Based Learning Directory at University of Brighton The Problem-Based Learning Directory at the University of Brighton aims to provide information about how PBL is managed by various departments/disciplines. Center for Educational Development at Republic Polytechnic http://www.asp Problem-Based Learning at The Australian Correspondence Schools Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction hosts a searchable database of links which is more useful than most as the search can be refined so producing a sensible number of more relevant links.le.html Temasek Polytechnic PBL Center Temasek Polytechnic PBL Center in Singapore has a portal aiming at providing a single point entry access to an integrated. http://www. http://pbl.pbl.acs. Central Queensland's Problem-Based Learning Web Portal Central Queensland's Problem-Based Learning Web Portal contains comprehensive information on problem-based learning and is designed to support with the Universities of in many Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning at University of Manchester http://www. The project aims to increase the profile of problem-based learning (PBL) in university Physics and Astronomy courses. exemplar support materials for students and It also aims at building a community of practice among PBL online support services that complement face-to-face delivery and support of PBL-related content and IST Learning Initiatives at Penn State (Problem-Based Learning) http://www. The e-board is part of CQU's new Problem-Based Learning Portal and will serve as a virtual meeting place for staff and students interested in discussing and learning more about this incredibly effective approach to learning http://www.cqu.asp Problem-Based Learning Web Portal at Central Queensland University 41 .mcli. http://www.pbl.bton.html Case Study Teaching in PBL Teacher Pages from Exploring the Environment / Classroom of the Future at Wheeling Jesuit University PBL Faculty Institute at University of Project-Based Instruction in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts University of South http://www.html PBL Directory at University of Brighton Problem Writing Casebook in Health Sciences at McMaster University PBLE: Project-Based Learning in Engineering The PBLE Guide: Educating Engineers using Projects Spartanburg Irvine http://www.html PBL in the Core Curriculum at Southern Illinois University 42 .edu/ete/teacher/ Distributed Course Delivery for PBL from EdWeb at San Diego State University (see The Learning Tree) http://edweb.buffalo.html http://www.html An Integrative Curriculum Approach to Mathematics and the Health Professions Using PBL at Allegany College of Maryland http://www.wju.http://pbl. SUNY Buffalo Pebbles Project at the Chemistry Department at Emory University The Samford PBL Initiative at Samford University PBL Course Porfolios PBL at the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction http://www. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford P5BL at the PBL at the School of Pharmacy at University of Mississippi Journal of Clinical ProblemBased Learning PBL Initiative at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine PBL in the School of Medicine at Queen's University Make It Happen Supports PBL in offering http://www.meds. Reno PBL at the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University Programme for Faculty Development PBL Curriculum at the College of Veterinary Science of Mississippi State University http://pbl.htm PBL Initiatives at Coventry University http://www.coventry. and parents resources to help them be successful at doing projects http://www.queensu.olemiss.msstate. http://www. PBL in Law at the UK Centre for Legal Learning at University of Warwick http://www.mcmaster. http://meds-ss10.htm Lausnaleitarnám PBL Upplýsingavefur (Iceland) PBL at University of Maastricht Buck Institute for Education 43 Project on the Effectiveness of PBL at Middlesex University Bio-Science Medical PBL at the School of Medicine at University of http://www.

research and development organization dedicated to improving the practice of teaching and the process of PBL and Teacher Training at Augusta State University http://www. and Technology at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy The Problem .edu/teacher_development/PBL/pblwelcome. Problem-Based Learning: How to Gain the Most from Center for the Advancement and Renewal of Learning and Teaching in Mathematics. McMaster University Available online in its entirety.auc. 44 http://www.usc.mcmaster. Science. research articles on PBL http://www.html USC California Science Project in particular PBL http://www.htm The Aalborg Experiment at Aalborg University http://www.bie.auc.

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