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Portraits of PBL: The Differential Impact of Assessment on Students' Approaches to Learning in Psychology, Computer Engineering, and Physiotherapy
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Studies in Adult, Popular and Higher Education. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5066-8728
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present study is part of a comprehensive research project with the general aims of comparing how problem-based learning is realised in three different professional educational programmes. The specific aims of this study are to describe the impact of assessment on students' approaches to learning in the three programmes. The PBL programmes are a Master's programme in Psychology, Master's programme in Computer Engineering, and a Bachelor's programme in Physiotherapy. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and analysed qualitatively. The results reveal both an idiosyncratic and a common pattern of categories describing the students’ approaches to learning. The idiosyncratic categories Confronting of perspectives, Reaching consensus, and Clinical reasoning appear to reflect fragments of the kinds of knowledge that are valued and sought-after within Psychology, Computer Engineering and Physiotherapy, respectively. The categories Reflecting, Memorising and Tactical planning appear across all three programmes, portraying deep as well as surface and strategic approaches to learning.

Keyword [en]
problem-based learning, comparative study, student's perspective, assessment, approaches to learning, qualitative analysis
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54138OAI: diva2:300155
Available from: 2010-02-25 Created: 2010-02-25 Last updated: 2013-09-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Portraits of PBL: A cross-faculty comparison of student's experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Portraits of PBL: A cross-faculty comparison of student's experiences
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aims of the present investigation were to describe and analyse aspects of students' experiences of PBL within three different academic contexts, computer engineering, psychology and physiotherapy. The idea of PBL as an educational approach comprises certain key features that are described in the literature as general and important for student learning. On the part of the student, learning in context and social interaction is highly emphasised together with the importance of developing metacognitive skills. There are however, co-existing descriptions in the literature of what constitutes PBL and what the theoretical evidence for the educational approach is.

The point of departure for the study was that the ways of adopting PBL may look different from the taken-for-granted perspectives of knowledge embedded in the scientific disciplines and their professionai practices. A sociocultural perspective was outlined as a point of departure for this standpoint. The sociocultural perspective of learning, thinking and action focuses on how individuals and groups acquire physical and cognitive resources and the interplay between the collective and the individual level. In this investigation, the interplay between a global and local level is studied by focusing on the ways PBL are implemented from the students' perspective.

Altogether 58 students participated in the study; 20 physiotherapy, 20 psychology and 18 engineering students. Semi-structured interviews, which were tape-recorded and later transcribed, were used as the method of data collection. Data were analysed qualitatively. The physiotherapy students were interviewed in 1993 and the psychology and information technology students in 1997. The results showed that there were differences between how problem-based learning is realised and understood by the students in the three programmes. These differences are described and discussed in relation to the perspectives of knowledge and learning embedded in the programmes that are reflected through the students' experiences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2001. 55 p.
Linköping Studies in Education and Psychology, ISSN 1102-7517 ; 80
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-23114 (URN)LiU-IBV-STU--80--SE (Local ID)91-7373-065-3 (ISBN)LiU-IBV-STU--80--SE (Archive number)LiU-IBV-STU--80--SE (OAI)
Public defence


Available from: 2009-10-07 Created: 2009-10-07 Last updated: 2013-09-03

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Abrandt Dahlgren, Madeleine
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Studies in Adult, Popular and Higher EducationFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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