PBL in today’s mass university: incrementalism as a coping strategy for students

Bodil Stilling Blichfeldt, Karina Madsen Smed*

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Problem-based learning (PBL) dates back to the 1970s and is inspired by the 1970s’ collectivistic and practice-oriented learning ideals, emphasising dynamic learning processes without clear-cut or simple beginnings and ends. Today, PBL is often performed and framed by other discourses, strategies, rules, regulations and politics than those governing universities in the 1970s. The purpose of this paper is not to account for changes in university policies and framings or explore the hinterlands of PBL, but to give voice to today’s students and explore their enactments of contemporary PBL. The study is based on qualitative data obtained from 62 students that emphasise smaller adjustments, improvements and minor revisions of their work-in-progress far more than radical (re)explorations and redirection of their work. Such incrementalism implies other rationales than the fundamental ideas behind PBL, and the paper therefore discusses the dilemmas that students experience when doing PBL within the contemporary, ‘disciplined’ university setting.

TidsskriftJournal of Further and Higher Education
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)856-864
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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