For forty years now, Maastricht University has been known for its Problem-Based Learning system. In the meantime, there are many variations to the theme and it is time to take stock, says the EDview project team, consisting of Janneke Frambach and Stella Wasenitz. They are asking teachers, students, curriculum developers, managers and education experts about their experiences at the UM. Or, to be more precise the “do’s (things we should do), don’ts (things we should no longer do) and don’t knows (things we should further investigate before we decide if we should or shouldn’t do them)” of PBL and education at UM in general. Including aspects that are central to making PBL work: teaching and teacher training, course and curriculum design, assessment, and the role of technology and internationalization for learning.
They do so by talking with experts, but also by asking those who experience the system on a daily basis (students and teachers): in small focus groups as well as through a large quantitative survey that will start before carnival and for which everyone will receive an invitation. Eventually - in October – all this should result in a shared vision on PBL that should last “for the next forty years”, says the project team with a nod.
“PBL is still often a byword for education groups in which the seven-jump process is implemented. This is a very limited view, which is not in keeping with daily practice at the various faculties,” says Frambach. “A broader approach, focusing on collaborative, contextual, constructive and - for example – self-directed learning would be more appropriate, as appears from our first round of interviews. It is a good thing to express this broader perspective. At the moment, there are teachers who do not implement the seven-jump process to the full, but keep quiet about it, while they do place the student in the centre and pay a lot of attention to working together, two important principles of PBL.”
So, EDview is looking for the PBL of the future. But Wasenitz and Frambach say that we shouldn't expect a new definition. “This is more about a ‘family of definitions’, different approaches that are all on the same wavelength and where one may be better suited to Knowledge Engineering and the other to Medicine. Such a broad approach provides freedom. We already have a lot at hand, it is already happening.”