Webinar, Session 1

Innovation in the role of the teacher in PBL: ways of doing PBL


When implementing PBL to a course or a semester, a new pedagogical approach to learning is implemented for both students and teachers. This session elaborates on experiences and difficulties when implementing PBL as well as when developing different approaches to practice. Point of departure will be taken in experiences from an introductory course in engineering mechanics at Aalborg University, Copenhagen, and a training of trainers program from Africa using the Jigsaw classroom approach. Even though the first presentation focus on developing and implementing PBL at course level, the later one provides an approach on how to train the trainers for future PBL implementation. The session will discuss and reflect on questions as: What impact does PBL have in these cases and is any difficulties experienced when implementing a new pedagogical approach to teaching and learning? Furthermore, what training and capacity building teachers and students need for the success development of “new ways of doing PBL”?

Presentation no. 1: 

A problem based approach to teaching a course in engineering mechanics, by Imad Abou-Hayt, Bettina Dahl and Camilla Østerberg Rump

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) can be defined as a learning environment where problems drive the learning. A teaching session begins with a problem to be solved, in such a way that students need to gain new knowledge before they can solve the problem. This paper discusses the application of PBL to teaching an introductory course in engineering mechanics at Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark for first semester students enrolled in the program “Sustainable Design". We pose realistic problems, which do not necessarily have a single correct solution. Project work in groups also presents itself as a supplement for conventional engineering education. The students themselves should interpret the problem posed, gather needed information, identify possible solutions, evaluate options and present conclusions. The paper also presents an initial assessment of the experiences gained from implementing PBL in the course. We conclude with a discussion of some issues in implementing PBL in engineering and mathematics courses.


Presentation no. 2:

The jigsaw classroom – a student-centered learning approach applied in training of trainers in Africa, by Mona Lisa Dahms, Maryam Ismail, Anthony Zozimus Sangeda and Al Saah

Universities in Africa face challenges such as, textbook-based curricula and outdated pedagogical methods. The Erasmus+ funded project Enhancing Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainability in Higher Education in Africa (EEISHEA) aims to address such challenges by ensuring curricula that are relevant to social and economic needs of Africa and are delivered through student-centred learning (SCL) approaches, including problem based learning. Such curricula will serve as “best practice” examples within the African partner universities.

The first part of the project was Training of Trainers (ToT), i.e. training of African teachers to redesign study programmes in accordance with project aims. This ToT was organized according to a modified version of the Jigsaw Classroom, and the research presented in this paper explores the usefulness of this approach in the given context.

Based on a mix of quantitative and qualitative data, findings documented that the Jigsaw Classroom has the same impact on trainees in adult education, such as ToT, as on students in K-12 classes and in universities, i.e. increased commitment and enhanced collaboration.






Webinar, Session 2

Teacher’s role in PBL: encouragement and support for teachers using PBL  


To provide motivating, relevant and updated teaching in PBL, educators need practice and continuing education in this role. For some educators envisioning and creating projects that are authentic, ill structured and connected to learning objectives is a must, while for others continuous support from different pedagogical sources are needed throughout a teachers working life. In this session, point of departure will be taken in two papers addressing how to support teachers in scaffolding a project design process in PBL, following by how continues education of teachers in primary and lower education provide relevant and updated inputs. Reflections and questions will evolve around opportunities and challenges when educating teachers in the PBL practice but also if continuing education within this pedagogical field is actually needed. 

Presentation no. 1:

Tools for scaffolding Educators’ project design process, by Mary C. English

Some educators who are new to project-based learning have difficulty envisioning a project that is based on an authentic, ill-structured problem, connects to course learning outcomes, and that will engage students at the appropriate level of challenge. To support educators in the process of identifying projects and designing project-based courses that meet these criteria, three tools were developed and implemented in a year-long, cohort-based course redesign program at a large research university. To date, these tools have been utilized with 20 faculty from different disciplines in three separate cohorts to design projects and create course syllabi. Feedback has indicated that designing with the end in mind and visualizing course content hierarchically were new ways of thinking for these faculty that were helpful in the design of their projects and course syllabi.

Presentation no. 2:

Using a PBL perspective to continuing education for science and mathematics lower secondary teachers, by Annette Grunwald, Henrik Worm Routhe, Mette Hesselholt Henne Hansen, Martin Krabbe Sillassen, Charlotte Krog Skott, Morten Rask Petersen, Jørgen Haagen Petersen, Lone Djernis Olsen and Steffen Elmose

For years, the need for inquiry- and problem-based learning (PBL) in primary and lower secondary education, within science and mathematics, has been addressed worldwide and requires support from a range of pedagogical sources. One important basis for such support is continuing teacher education. The present research builds upon data from a nationwide qualitative investigation (Hesselholt Henne Hansen et al., 2019), conducted as part of a feasibility study aimed at initiating a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduate teacher programme in Denmark, leading to a Master of Science (MSc) in STEM teaching. The investigation identified continuing education needs of science and mathematics teachers and student teachers. We looked into the results of the qualitative portion of the feasibility study and investigated whether and how problem-based learning was being emphasized as comprising desirable content areas for continuing teacher education. Data were collected from 35 group interviews with 66 respondents: teachers from public and private schools, and teacher students. The results showed that PBL stands out as a desirable focus area. Other student teachers expressed an interest in including didactic-based topics that are related to PBL, e.g. differentiated teaching, engineering design, technology, and information communication technology [ICT] within STEM education. Furthermore, respondents expressed their desire for collaboration with other subjects (e.g. Danish and social sciences) in interdisciplinary teaching and, as well, the opportunity to immerse themselves in academic topics such as education for sustainability, climate education, technology, and including specific experiences with applied science, mathematics and recent research. Without being able to make a quantitative statement, it must also be mentioned that some teachers expressed no need or desire for further education.


Webinar, Session 3

Workshop “How to support international and interdisciplinary PBL in a digital format?”



In this workshop, we discuss how digital technologies enable students to work together across universities, countries and disciplines in order to solve real-world problems together. One part of the workshop will deal with our experiences in using the Sustainable Development Goal as a starting point for the problems to solve, and another part on how to facilitate collaboration in a fully or mostly digital format. The workshop is given in connection with the Erasmus+ project EPIC (Improving Employability Through Internationalization and Collaboration), which has also developed useful resources to facilitate such projects.

Be prepared for interaction and discussions throughout the workshop!

Webinar, Session 4

Curriculum design: Implementing a PBL approach 



Future engineering students must be able to address, analyse and handle future complex problems and solutions. Industry is already looking for students who can easily adapt and provide sustainable solutions to societal changes. By securing curricula to be both relevant, modernized and innovative students are provided with the needed set of skills and competences necessary for future problem solving. In this session, point of departure will be taken in three papers examining the implementation of modernized curricula adaptable to its context and to future sustainable demands. However, is PBL fit to address these changes in curricula and do students gain the intended and needed skills and competences adapting this approach to learning? 

Presentation no 1:

Integrating two core biomedical engineering courses through a project-based learning approach: a framework for teaching student-centered comprehensive engineering design, by Juan Carlos Cruz, Carolina Muñoz-Camargo, Francisco Buitrago-Flórez and Carola Hernández

Industry stakeholders are currently looking for graduates who can easily adapt to the rapid society changes that we are facing today. Engineering classrooms, however, are usually trapped in professor-centered traditional pedagogical approaches from which such high-level competencies are challenging to develop in learners. Disruptive engineering educators have responded by modernizing the curricula with the aid of  Problem-Oriented Project Based Learning (PO-PBL), which is an active pedagogical strategy where students are at the center of the learning process. This approach is therefore well-suited for training a suitable  workforce with the capability of responding to the upcoming highly complex societal problems of years to come. Here, we report on the implementation of a PO-PBL approach as a framework to integrate the  teaching of biomaterials design, simulation and prototyping in a practical and student-centered manner. The proposed intervention focuses on a switch from traditional protocol-based and fully guided practices to  project-mediated learning where students form teams to ideate and implement solutions independently. A concurrent mixed-method research was implemented to evaluate the extent of our intervention. Quantitative data analysis strongly suggests an encouraging increase for team’s performance in design, implementation and prototyping, in comparison with data from a previous cohort in the absence of active  learning. Additionally, interaction maps and surveys indicate a strong causality between high performance  in both technical skill and people-related competencies and the student-centered way of learning provided  by the project-based framework introduced for the integrated experience. The conceptual basis of the socio cultural vision of education was subsequently used to elucidate how theoretical concepts explain the  achievement of the implemented strategy. Results presented here are promising as a framework for the integration and practical apprehension of concepts of other core courses in the Biomedical Engineering curriculum as it demonstrates a route to develop key skills in crucial engineering competences.


Presentation no. 2:

Implementing of ABC Learning Design for curriculum development in an African context, by Bente Nørgaard, Henrik Bregnhøj and Ernest Kira

This paper reflects an interest and effort in reforming higher education (HE) study programmes through ensuring curricula that are highly relevant to Africa's modern economic and social needs, thus equipping graduates with skills and competences for employability and self-employment. The context of the paper is the EU funded Erasmus+ Capacity Building Project EEIS-HEA, which has the overall aims of firstly, developing study programmes which are aligned with local, national and regional needs and secondly, integrating entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability into curricula that are delivered with the use of e-learning through student-centred learning approaches, such as, problem based learning. The project is based on cooperation between HE Institutions in East and West Africa and in the EU. The ABC Learning Design (ABC LD) is a toolkit developed for curriculum revision at course level, but in this case, it was modified to a study-programme level. ABC LD enables a high level of engagement, creative informed dialogue and group reflection on curriculum design among timeprioritising academics. Empirically, this study is based on observations, reflection journals, surveys and focus-group interviews with participants from different ABC LD workshops conducted in five East and West African universities. The aim of this paper is to investigate to what degree the ABC LD is applicable in an African context as a tool for instigating a problem-based learning (PBL) approach within subjects such as Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Sustainability. The end goal will be new practical knowledge on the applicability of the ABC LD toolkit and recommendations for further development to fit a PBL approach in an African context.


Using different taxonomies to formulate learning outcomes to innovative engineering curriculum towards PBL: perspectives from engineering educators, by Kjell Staffas, Steffi Knorn, Aida Guerra, Damiano Varagnolo and André Teixeira

Designing modern engineering curricula requires integrating the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and generic employability skills, focusing on student-centred learning, and explicitly including learning outcomes about knowledge, skills, and competences. There is the need thus for tools that help teachers and boards to address these demands and assure quality in educational processes and outcomes when revising and changing curricula. Higher education institutions have been developing different quality assurance strategies. However, from a teaching and learning practice perspective, there are concerns on whether such strategies guarantee curriculum coherence, especially in terms of ensuring progression and alignment between learning outcomes and more student-centred learning activities, such as problem-based learning (PBL).  This paper discusses the above coherence issues by addressing the following question: What are strengths and weaknesses in using taxonomies to analyse learning outcomes as mean to promote curriculum innovation and PBL implementation?

The paper takes the point of departure on formulation of learning outcomes using Bloom’s revised, SOLO, and Feisel-Schmitz Technical taxonomies and in which ways they support engineering educators in re-design their courses towards PBL. More specifically, the manuscript discusses: a) the similarities and differences between different taxonomies; b) strengths and weaknesses of taxonomies to analyse learning outcomes for engineering education and PBL, taking the point of departure four engineering courses as case examples.