Annie Aarup Jensen

  • Problem based learning in HE and new approaches to assessment as a consequence of new formal regulations

    Annie Aarup Jensen and Lone Krogh, Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark

    Research seminar

    Themes: skills development and lifelong learning

    Tuesday 8 September 2009, 09.00 - 10.00 in room 122

    Aalborg University has more than 30 years of experiences in educating students using problem based learning strategies.  The pedagogical model is described in keywords as problem-based, project-organised cooperative project learning in groups. Within a curricular fra­mework based on scientific or professional fields (often with a considerable degree of interdisciplinarity) students choose and formulate pro­blems and questions, which are investigated and analysed by the students and they take steps towards resol­ving the problems making use of existing sources, methods and theo­ries. This work is documented in a project report and becomes the basis for oral exami­nation at the end of term and semester. This work process has some similarities to some types of research work, and it is also related to types of work processes as they are seen in the academic work life in general, not least in development projects, project management and in combination with organisational learning. Although project work is regarded as the core study activity, students also follow lecture programmes and seminars and do different types of assignments. The students’ work is facilitated by university teachers.

    It is generally expected that students work in groups of often 6 - 8 persons during the first year of study, and later in their studies the number often shrinks to 2 or 3. Individual project work is accepted, but the students are told that this minimizes the peer-learning potential. The importance of group study has also shaped the physical environ­ment. Groups meet and work in the university, and rooms for project groups are provided. At selected universities in for instance England and Australia methods which can be compared to project work are developed within the concept of ’peer learning’ (Boud 2001).

    Until recently examinations were also carried out in groups, in the form of a combination of oral presentations from each group member, questions from examiner and external censor and discussions based on both oral presentations and the written project report.  This means that there was a kind of alignment between goals, learning activities and examination format. However, in 2006 the present liberal-conservative government announced that group examinations would no longer be permitted. Students were welcome to do study work and write report in groups, but they were to be examined and assessed individually, without the presence of other students.

    Based on research into the implications of the ban on group exams the presentation will present the new rules and regulations for assessment and discuss some of their consequences for teaching, learning and assessment in general and for the PBL-model in particular. Some of the core issues will be: The consequences of the changes in assessment formats, the implications for the students’ learning strategies and approaches and examples of the various strategies employed in different disciplines in order to create new valid assessment forms.


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