Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning

Institutional and Global Change

During the last 30 years, Higher Education (HE) has changed a lot. In the Northern part of Europe, until the 1960s, the traditional universities dominated with the ideal of an elitist university with freedom of academic research, which implied searching for the truth, and with an approach to education as presenting research. After the 1960s, with the students' rebellion, the university culture changed. At the traditional universities, students started to formulate demands, and became critical of the decline of the dominant research paradigm. At the managerial level, students had more influence on the boards, and they also applied pressure to develop new educational models such as the project- and problem-based learning (PBL) models that were implemented in Bremen University in Germany, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Linköping University in Sweden, and Aalborg and Roskilde University in Denmark. During the 1970s and 1980s, the predominant picture was still that of traditional universities, but the university system expanded because of increased enrolment numbers (Carter et al., 2003)

Often in history, unexpected partnerships occur: one of these partnerships was between the students' movements and industry. Many of the students' criticisms and alternatives, such as peer learning and problem-based and project-based learning, went hand in hand with demands from industry. For example, Aalborg University in Denmark was established in 1974 as a PBL university, due to lobbying from industry as well as being a result of the students' movement. This partnership was founded due to the fact that the largest faculty at Aalborg University was the Faculty of Engineering. It has been well known that there is a need for the ability to manage projects and co-operate, particularly in the technological field


Engineering Education Change Agent Project Work Faculty Staff Change Process Institution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ABET (2008). 13 October, 2005
  2. Algreen-Ussing, H. & Fruensgaard, N.O. (1990). Metode i Projektarbejde. Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Askling, B. & Henkel, M. (2000). Higher Education Institutions. In M. Kogan, M. Bauer, I. Bleiklie & M. Henkel (Eds.), Transforming Higher Education — A Comparative Study (Chapter 5). London: Jessica KingsleyGoogle Scholar
  4. Assiter, A. (Ed.) (1995). Transferable Skills in Higher Education. London: Kogan PageGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnett, R. (1999). Reconfiguring the University. In P. Scott (Ed.), Higher Education Reformed. London: RoutlegdeFalmerGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrows, H.S. (1996). Problem-Based Learning in Medicine and Beyond: A Brief Overview. In L.A. Wilkerson & W.H. Gijselaers (Eds.), Bringing Problem-Based Learning to Higher Education: Theory and Practice (pp. 3–12). San Francisco: Jossey-BassGoogle Scholar
  7. Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University — What the Student Does. Buckingham: Open University Press, The Society for Research into Higher EducationGoogle Scholar
  8. Bok, D. (2003). Universities in the Marketplace — The Commercialisation of Higher Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  9. Carter, J., Eriksen, K., Horst, S. & Troelsen, R. (2003). If Reform of Science is the Answer — What were the Questions? Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, Center for Naturfagenes DidaktikGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, B.R. (1998). Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organisational Pathways of Transformation. Amsterdam: PergamonGoogle Scholar
  11. Crosthwaite, C., Cameron, I., Lant, P. & Litster, J. (2006). Balancing Curriculum Processes and Content in a Project Centred Curriculum — In pursuit of Graduate Attributes. In Education for Chemical Engineers, March 2006, Trans IChemE, Part D, no. 1, pp. 39–48http://www.icheme. org/ECEsamplepaper.pdf
  12. Dochy, F., Segers, M., Van den Bossche, P. & Gijbels, D. (2003). Effects of Problem-Based Learning: A Meta-Analysis. Learning and Instruction, 13(5), 553–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Du, X. & Kolmos, A. (2006). Process Competence in a Problem and Project-Based Learning Environment. In Proceedings of the 34th SEFI Annual Conference: Engineering Education and Active Students, No. 34, July 2006, Uppsala University, Faculty of Science and Technology. Available at:
  14. Faland, B. & Frenay, M. (Eds.) (2005). Problem and Project-Based Learning in Higher Education: Impact, Issues, and Challenges. Louvain-la-Neuve: Presses Universitaires de LouvainGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedman, T.L. (2005). The World is Flat — A Brief History of the Globalised World in the Twenty- First Century. London: Allen LaneGoogle Scholar
  16. Fullan, M. (2001). The New Meaning of Educational Change. New York: Teachers College PressGoogle Scholar
  17. Fullan, M. (2004). Leading in a Culture of Change: Personal Action Guide and Workbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; WileyGoogle Scholar
  18. Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership & Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action. Thousand Oaks: Corwin PressGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P. & Trow, M. (1994). The New Production of Knowledge. The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. London: SageGoogle Scholar
  20. Graaff, E. & de & Kolmos, A. (2007). Management of Change Implementation of Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning in Engineering. The Netherlands: SenseGoogle Scholar
  21. Hansen, S. (2004). The Supervisor in the Project-Organised Group Work Should Participate in Developing the Students' Project Competence. European Journal of Engineering Education, 29(3), 451–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Henriksen, L.B., Nørreklit, L., Jørgensen, K.M., Christensen, J.B. & O'Donnell, D. (Eds.) (2004). Dimension of Change — Conceptualising Reality in Organisational Research. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School PressGoogle Scholar
  23. Illeris, K. (1976). Problemorientering og deltagerstyring: oplæg til en alternative didaktik (Problem Orientation and Participation: Draft for an Alternative Didactic). Munksgaard, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  24. Kogan, M., Bauer, M., Bleiklie, I. & Henkel, M. (2000). Change and Continuity. In M. Kogan, M. Bauer, I. Bleiklie & M. Henkel (Eds.), Transforming Higher Education — A Comparative Study. London: Jessica KingsleyGoogle Scholar
  25. Kolmos, A. (1996). Reflections on Project Work and Problem-Based Learning. European Journal of Engineering Education, 21(2), 141–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kolmos, A. (1999). Progression of Collaborative Skills. In Themes and Variations in PBL, Vol. 1, [Refereed Proceedings of the 1999 Bi-ennial PBL, Conference, 7–10 July 1999, Montreal: Canada] Callaghan, Australia: ProblarcGoogle Scholar
  27. Kolmos, A. (2002). Facilitating Change to a Problem-Based Model. The International Journal for Academic Development, 7(1), 63–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kolmos, A. (2006). Future Engineering Skills, Knowledge, and Identity. In J. Christensen, L.B. Henriksen & A. Kolmos (Eds.), Engineering Science, Skills, and Bildung (pp. 165–185). Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  29. Kolmos, A. & Graaff, E de. (2003). Characteristics of Problem-Based Learning. International Journal of Engineering Education, 17(5), pp. 657–662Google Scholar
  30. Kolmos, A., Fink, F. & Krogh, L. (2004). The Aalborg PBL model. Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  31. Kolmos, A., Gynnild, V. & Roxå, T. (2004). The Organisational Aspect of Faculty Development. In A. Kolmos, O. Vinther, P. Andersson, L. Malmi & M. Fuglem (Eds.), Faculty Development in Nordic Engineering Education. Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  32. Kolmos, A., Rump, C., Ingemarsson, I., Laloux, A. & Winther, O. (2001). Organisation of Staff Development — Strategies and Experiences. European Journal of Engineering Education, 4(26), 329–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kotter, J.B. (1995). Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 44–56Google Scholar
  34. Kjærsdam, F. & Enemark, S. (1994). The Aalborg Experiment — Project Innovation in University Education. Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  35. Krogh, L. & Rasmussen, J.G. (2004). Employability and Problem-Based Learning in Project-Organised Settings at the University. In The Aalborg PBL Model: Progress, Diversity and Challenges (pp. 37–56). Aalborg: Aalborg University PressGoogle Scholar
  36. Moesby, E. (2004). Reflection on Making a Change Towards Project Oriented and Problem-Based Learning. World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, 2(3), 269–278Google Scholar
  37. Morgan, C.K. & Roberts, D. (2002). Herding Cats? Obtaining Staff Support for Curriculum Change and Implementation. International Consortium for Educational Development, Perth, July, 2002. Available at:
  38. Prince, M.J. & Felder, R.M. (2006). Inductive Teaching and Learning Methods: Definitions, Comparisons, and Research Bases. Journal of Engineering Education, 95(2), 123–138Google Scholar
  39. Savin-Baden, M. (2003). Facilitation Problem-Based Learning. Birkshire: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open Universtity PressGoogle Scholar
  40. Savin-Baden, M. & Wilkie, K. (Eds.) (2004). Challenging Research in Problem-Based Learning. Birkshire: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open Universtity PressGoogle Scholar
  41. Schmidt, H.G. & Moust, H.C.M. (2000). Factors Affecting Small-Group Tutorial Learning: A Review of Research. In D.H. Evensen & C.E. Hmelo (Eds.), Problem-Based Learning: A Research Perspective on Learning Interactions (pp. X–XX). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  42. Scott, G. (2003). Effective Change Management in Higher Education. In EDUCAUSE Review, 38(6), X–XXGoogle Scholar
  43. Shuman, L.; Besterfield-Sacre, M. and McGourty, J. (2005). The ABET “Professional Skills” — Can They Be Taught? Can They Be Assessed? Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 94, No. 1, pp 41–56Google Scholar
  44. Sporn, B. (2003). Management in Higher Education: Current Trends and Future Perspectives in European Colleges and Universities. In R. Begg (Ed.), The Dialogue Between Higher Education Research and Practice: 25 Years of EAIR (pp. 97–107). Dordrecht: KluwerCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thomas, J.W. (2000). A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning. Autodesk Foundation. Available at:
  46. UNESCO Chair in Problem-Based Learning in Engineering Education:http://www.ucpbl.netRetrieved May 2008

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Development and PlanningAalborg UniversityDenmark

Personalised recommendations