About the Journal

The Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education is an official journal of Institute for Advanced Study in Problem Based Learning at Aalborg University. The journal is international and peer reviewed.

The journal features original high-quality research articles and cases on problem based learning with a focus on higher education. We welcome papers on all relevant topics and themes within the scope of the journal, based on empirical and / or theoretical research, as well as descriptive cases and explorative cases.

The journal is day-to-day managed by an editorial team of cross-faculty researchers associated with IAS-PBL. The current editor-in-chief is associate professor Patrik Kjærsdam Telléus (Faculty of Medicine).

To ensure the quality and proper development of the journal, the journal is supervised by an editorial board consisting of acknowledged PBL researchers from across the world. The board meet with the editorial team annually to evaluate and discus the progress of the journal.    

The journal is indexed in the following databases Elsevier Scopus, ERIC, Crossref, DOAJ, and EBSCO.

We define problem based learning in a broad sense, characterized by the principles applied at Aalborg University. These are:

  • Project organization creates the framework of problem based learning
  • Courses support the project work
  • Cooperation is a driving force in problem based project work
  • The problem based project work of groups must be exemplary
  • The students are responsible for their own learning achievements

Variations of these principles as well as other relevant supportive additions to the comprehension of PBL are accepted. The definition and/or application of PBL must be clear and distinctly presented, and well anchored in the acknowledged literature.

We define higher education as all forms of education from and above the level of post-secondary education, sometimes referred to as the third (and beyond) or the tertiary level of education.

Higher education is typically offered by universities, colleges, vocational colleges, art academies and business academies. Common to higher education is that the graduate obtains an academic degree or some equivalent form of advanced authorization or certification.   

The Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education stives to be a global outlet for high-quality scholarship in problem-based learning in higher education, and actively seeks to promote transformative and progressive university pedagogy.

The journal publishes state of the art rigorous research related to problem-based learning in higher education and wish to emerge as one of the leading international platforms for PBL researchers and practitioners in higher education.

We have deliberately dedicated the journal to the specific scope of PBL in higher education, to sustain the journal as a specialized and focused publication and information channel at the top level of academia.  

Peer Review Process
Papers submitted to the journal are first examined by the editorial team for formal requirements and an initial quality assessment. If chosen for review, a managing editor assign two reviewers for research papers, one reviewer for cases.

The reviewers look for originality and scientific quality in the context of related research. Reviews generally are completed within 30-50 days.

If the research paper or case is accepted for publication, it will be published in the next available issue. Our acceptance rate is presently at 36%.

Publication frequency
Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education is published annually (late Autumn). In addition to the annual issue, we generally publish one special issue per year based on a specific call for papers and together with some collaborative expert editors. If you have a suggestion for a special issue, you are welcome to contact the editor-in-chief.

For authors
If you wish to seek publication with us, please visit our submission guidelines. Here you will find the formal requirements and procedural instructions. You will also find a detailed description of how we perceive, and what we expect from research papers and cases respectively.


Research papers

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

  • 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 and/or 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.

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. The journal is also interested in receiving articles that make an original practical or critical contribution to research theory, practice, knowledge, and understanding of contemporary themes, developments and current thinking in problem-based learning in higher education.

Papers should in general contain the following:

  • A clear structure including a research question stating the ambition of the paper. A research question should be the start of departure whether it is a conceptual or an empirical paper.
  • Please address how the paper is going to bring significance to the literature within Problem-based learning – How can the PBL research community benefit from the paper. In this regard every paper needs to demonstrate an overview of the community and the literature – that is, to build upon the existing literature.
  • A section discussing “Implications for practice”. The ambition of the journal is not just to analyze variation in PBL but to use these variations to discuss the future of PBL as a pedagogy for promoting learning and development.

For further information on structure and content please visit the author guidelines.  


PBL Cases

  • PBL cases disseminate experiences and share PBL-practices, rather than presenting novel research findings. For more information see section further below.
  • PBL cases discuss experiences of a particular PBL design experiment, its 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).
  • PBL cases are shorter than research papers (max 3000 words)
  • Layout and referencing should follow the regular author guidelines.

PBL cases should in general contain the following parts, not necessarily in the order given below:

  • An abstract/summary
    • Same requirements as for research papers.
  • Theoretical/Pedagogical framework:
    • Description and discussion of PBL interpretation (and other relevant theoretical frameworks) and how this guided the design of the particular PBL implementation.
  • A description of the context and implementation
    • Where did the PBL implementation take place, duration, number of students/teachers, etc. What activities were there for teachers and students.
  • Evaluation/analysis of of PBL implementation
    • How was the PBL implementation evaluated and/or its results assessed?
  • Results, reflections and recommendations
    • 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 (international) community of PBL researchers and practitioners.

Other than the length of the cases, the PBL-cases should follow the regular author guidelines. 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/