About the Journal

Focus and Scope

The Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education (JPBLHE) has been launched to provide an opportunity for scholars to publish:

Research papers:

  • High-quality research articles that contribute to the current and future development of problem-based learning in higher education.
  • Review articles examining the development of problem-based learning in higher education.
  • Articles examining the intellectual, pedagogical and practical use-value of PBL or which extend, critique or challenge past and current theoretical and empirical knowledge claims within PBL in higher education.
  • Articles examining theoretical, pedagogical and practical aspects of how networked technologies or ICTs can be used to support or develop problem-based learning.
  • Articles on PBL research relating to the concepts of problem-based learning in any other wider social and cultural contexts.


  • PBL cases disseminating experiences and sharing PBL-practices, rather than presenting novel research findings. For more information see section further below.

Editorial criteria for research papers

The editors are particularly interested in receiving high-quality original research articles, informed by robust empirical and theoretical underpinnings from the fields and disciplines related to problem-based learning in higher education, particularly pedagogy, but also articles based on fields and disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and science and engineering. The journal is also interested in receiving articles that make an original practical or critical contribution to research theory and practice and knowledge and understanding of contemporary themes, developments and current thinking in problem-based learning in higher education.


  • Principles and philosophy of PBL in Higher Education
  • The pedagogy of PBL
  • PBL and everyday practice
  • PBL management and policy-making
  • PBL and workplace cultures
  • Critical PBL
  • PBL, ICT and technology-enhanced learning
  • PBL and networked learning
  • PBL internships and cooperative education
  • PBL and intercultural studies
  • Interdisciplinarity and PBL
  • PBL, creativity and creative processes

Key benefits

  • JPBLHE is the only journal that is specifically dedicated to the theme of PBL in higher education.
  • JPBLHE privileges PBL pedagogy and practice in higher education – an area of research which is currently dispersed across a wide range of outlets.
  • JPBLHE seeks to publish research which will help to enhance and promote the use of problem-based learning in higher education.
  • JPBLHE welcomes research relating to the use of networked technologies to support or develop PBL pedagogy and practices.
  • JPBLHE seeks to provide space for discussion and debate that will encourage and support the advancement of theory and practice in problem-based learning in higher education.

Key journal audiences

  • JPBLHE will be of interest to educators in all disciplines in higher education, as well as academics with expertise in PBL in higher education and an interest in PBL approaches generally.
  • JPBLHE will be of interest and value in career development terms to postgraduate masters and doctoral research students interested in problem-based learning in higher education.
  • JPBLHE will be useful to practitioners and researchers currently or potentially interested in the use-value of employing problem-based learning in higher education.

Vision and mission


  • The Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education (JPBLHE) will be a global outlet for scholarship in problem-based learning in higher education. It represents state of the art research in theory and practice of PBL in higher education and actively seeks to promote transformative and progressive university pedagogy. JPBLHE will provide access to the most current research and practice related to PBL university pedagogy, including the use of networked technologies, thus enhancing efforts of both PBL researchers and practitioners in higher education.


  • The mission of JPBLHE is to publish rigorous research related to problem-based learning in higher education. The journal should also engage key and emerging scholars in significant discussion of key issues facing PBL researchers and practitioners in higher education. The journal should provide up-to-date information to scholars and practitioners who are new to PBL research and pedagogy, enabling them to address current gaps in the literature and/or to transform current learning environments and practices.

Peer Review Process

JPBLHE publishes original research papers about PBL in higher education. Papers submitted to the journal are examined by two reviewers for originality and scientific quality in the context of related research. Reviews generally are completed in 30-50 days with publication in the next available issue.

Publication Frequency

JPBLHE will be published annually (Autumn). In addition special issues may appear e.g. related to PBL conferences or other PBL related events. If you have a suggestion for a special issue you are welcome to contact the editor.

Open Access Policy

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

We do not charge authors any Article Processing Charge or other fees for publishing in the journal.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).

PBL Cases

PBL cases are a format, which act as an alternative to research papers. They are shorter than research papers (max 3000 words – app. 5-6 pages) and are avenues for disseminating experiences and sharing PBL-practices, rather than presenting novel research findings. Thus, PBL cases are for disseminating and discussing experiences of a particular PBL design experiment, implementation or orchestration of PBL, which is not necessarily innovative or new, but could follow a well-known pedagogical model (with perhaps smaller modifications and changes). They need not necessarily introduce novel theoretical or methodological perspectives, and the evaluation or discussion does not need to be firmly rooted in an elaborate research design i.e. be based in structured surveys, interviews or observational studies. Thus, they could be used to:

• Disseminate experiences from research in progress
• To solidify and corroborate our knowledge of particular PBL-models or orchestrations
• To question our knowledge of particular PBL-models or orchestrations
• To disseminate good practice and act as inspirational cases for other practitioners wishing to work with PBL – or for knowing what to avoid when implementing PBL.

For PBL cases it is important that they provide rich descriptions of context, background and the pedagogical design of a PBL experiment or implementation. They should give sufficient information about the implementation that other practitioners can adopt a similar design in their own practice (or know what to avoid). Thus, PBL cases could/should contain:

• An abstract/summary
• A description of the context:

  • Where did the PBL implementation take place, duration, number of students/teachers, the conditions, affordances and constraints of the implementation

• Theoretical/Pedagogical framework:

  • What thoughts, pedagogical underpinnings, theories or existing models of PBL guided the design of the particular PBL-implementation

• Concrete implementation and actions:

  • How was the PBL implementation carried out, over how long, how was the design structured and what activities were there for teachers and students (e.g. how many sessions, periods of online work, length of group discussions, number of classroom sessions etc.)

• Results and reflections

  • What were the experiences and results of the PBL implementation and what were in retrospect the reasons or causes for these results. What could have been done otherwise, what did you learn from the experiment, and how might this, more broadly, be useful to the wider community of PBL researchers and practitioners.

Other than the length of the cases, the PBL-cases should follow the regular author guidelines (link). Also, the cases will only be reviewed by one reviewer, and mainly with the purpose of identifying whether the PBL case is understandable to others, encompass sufficiently rich descriptions, and whether there is a well-argued relation between pedagogical framework, concrete implementation and then the results and reflections.

Notes and references:

The format for cases is inspired by the notion of design narratives (Mor, 2011, 2013), which you can read more about here (link: http://www.ld-grid.org/resources/representations-and-languages/design-narratives).

Mor, Yishay (2011). Design narratives: an intuitive scientific form for capturing design knowledge in education. In: proceedings of the Sixth Chais Conference on Instructional Technologies Research: Learning in the Technological Era, 17 Feb 2011, Raanana, Israel. http://oro.open.ac.uk/30299/

Mor, Yishay (2013). SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns. In: Luckin, Rose; Goodyear, Peter; Grabowski, Barbara and Winters, Niall eds. Handbook of Design in Educational Technology. London: Routledge, (In press). http://oro.open.ac.uk/33861/


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