Learning cultures of problem-based learning teams

Siva Krishnan, Roger Gabb, Colleen Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The learning experiences of first-year engineering students to a newly implemented engineering problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum is reported here, with an emphasis on student approaches to learning. Ethnographic approaches were used for data collection and analysis. This study found that student learning in a PBL team in this setting was mainly influenced by the attitudes, behaviour and learning approaches of the student members in that team. Three different learning cultures that emerged from the analysis of eight PBL teams are reported here. They are the finishing culture, the performing culture and the collaborative learning culture. It was found that the team that used a collaborative approach to learning benefited the most in this PBL setting. Students in this team approached learning at a deep level. The findings of this study imply that students in a problem-based, or project-based, learning setting may not automatically adopt a collaborative learning culture. Hence, it is important for institutions and teachers to identify and consider the factors that influence student learning in their particular setting, provide students with necessary tools and ongoing coaching to nurture deep learning approaches in PBL teams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalAustralasian Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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