Purpose – The paper aims to explore the challenges of problem‐based learning (PBL) as an unconventional teaching methodology experienced by a higher learning institute in Singapore. Design/methodology/approach – The exploratory study was conducted using focus group discussions and semi‐structured interviews. Four groups of people were invited to participate in the research involving administrators, management personnel, lecturers and students. Findings – Key findings of the research point to three pertinent enablers in developing PBL in higher education. They are the role of people, process and purpose in the implementation of PBL. These three areas are interconnected in many ways but their relationship is not entirely linear. Research limitations/implications – Although the study is limited by the single context from which data were drawn, it offers considerable implications for research in higher education as PBL has been regarded as an emerging paradigm. Much discussion and debate of PBL have centered on the compatibility of subjects, backgrounds of students and the level of preparedness institutions are willing to adopt such an approach. Practical implications – Implications for practice and policy include strategic communication of PBL rationale, appropriate structuring of PBL lessons, careful allocation of resources, identification of suitable PBL facilitators and ensuring of the right mixture of students in PBL group formations. Originality/value – Although a number of studies have been carried out in Singapore, very few have concentrated on how PBL has been implemented in engineering education. More importantly, while current studies center on the pedagogical aspects of PBL, this study provides a fresh perspective on educational management.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Focus groups; Higher education; Lifelong learning; Problem‐based learning; Singapore
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