University Educators’ Professional Learning in a PBL Pedagogical Development Programme

How to Cite

Guerra, A., Nørgaard, B., & Du, X. (2023). University Educators’ Professional Learning in a PBL Pedagogical Development Programme. Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education, 11(1), 36–59.


This study explored university teachers’ professional learning when participating in a pedagogical development (PD) programme. The PD programme, entitled the Aalborg Certificate on Basics of PBL and Curriculum Change, had a workload of 150 hours and ran for four months, involving 23 teachers from Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá, Colombia). The programme comprised four modules, delivered in a blended mode, and followed a problem- and project-based learning (PBL) approach, as well as being based on PBL principles. This investigation conceptualizes professional learning from the complex learning theory perspective, describing it as a complex dynamic system involving knowledge, motivations, values, attitudes, and beliefs dependent on social and individual contextual factors, and how these can lead to the implementation of alternative teaching practices in classroom (e.g., PBL). Building on that, this work addresses the following research questions: (1) What knowledge and beliefs have the PD programme participants developed about PBL? (2) In which ways do the developed knowledge and beliefs impact participants’ change towards PBL? This analysis takes a qualitative approach and uses multiple sources of data, namely participants’ portfolios and reflection essays, as well as a qualitative survey. The results show the participants developed a deep understanding of PBL principles and practices by experiencing them through the PD programme, and that reflective practice enables continuous professional learning and development. Additionally, their perceived challenges were related to time, as well as institutional support and infrastructures, in addition to student and teacher training.

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