A qualitative analysis of students' naturalistic learning processes during their first experience in problem-based learning

  • Seren Mabley

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Future global challenges that engineering graduates face have placed demands on engineering education and how graduates develop professional skills while studying at university. Such demand has seen an increase in the use of pedagogies like problem-based learning (PBL) that provide opportunities for developing professional skills such as teamwork and problem-solving.;The current research in PBL is maifocused on evaluatingnly the pedagogy on a curricula scale rather than the collaborative processes involved in such a student-centred and active pedagogy.;This thesis is aiming to address this and gain an insight and understanding of students' naturalistic learning processes during their very first experience with problem-based learning (PBL); to identify strategies which are used by team members to manage the PBL process.;This has been successfully investigated through analysis of naturalistic observations of students in PBL sessions. The thesis reports the analysis of 80 hours of naturalistic video data collected from students, studying at the University of Strathclyde, during their PBL sessions. This data was then analysed using qualitative content analysis, a method that enabled the author to identify and describe strategies observed in the video data using a systematic and scientific approach.;The strategies identified indicate that the students are not conducting PBL sessions as they are designed or intended to be held, particularly when the teams are managing their own group processes. The findings of this study emphasize just how complicated it can be to transition from a passive learning role (e.g. during lectures) to an active role (e.g. in PBL), where the responsibility of learning is with the students themselves.;The study highlights how video recording data can be used to provide a novel contribution to the research on problem-based learning in engineering education and broaden the understanding of strategies used by students to manage the problem-based learning process.
Date of Award13 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorEsther Ventura-Medina (Supervisor) & Tony Anderson (Supervisor)

Cite this