The Aalborg University was founded in 1974 on a new educational model, the problem-based and project organized model (also known as problem-based project work model) reports Coffin (2011, 19). PBL—note that the acronym PBL is often used to indicate both problem-based and project-based learning—has been practised with variations the past four decades in the Danish educational system by Roskilde University and Aalborg University. The “Aalborg model varies in terms of [programme] themes and choices of project work, definition of a problem, relationship between courses and the project, methods of supervision, resources, and group size” state Coffin (2011, 19). Herewith an illustration of my interpretation:
Coffin (2011, 19) gives an “overview of the idea of how this AAU-PBL model works is that students work together in groups on their project, one project per semester, to analyse and define problems within the interdisciplinary or subject/ theme frame. Students furthermore are expected to submit a group project report and then participate in a joint examination, but obtaining individual marks. As for the core of learning principles for the Aalborg PBL model, the focus is upon the problem, the content, and the team (Graaff & Kolmos, 2003). In terms of time frame and learning management, in each semester students are expected to spend 50% of their time on the project (team dynamic) and spend another 50% on the traditional lectures. Each group has a group room as space for their study and has a supervisor to guide them through their project. In each semester, each program formulates a theme which covers a variation of problems and learning objectives; therefore, students’ projects and courses (lecture based) must comply with or relate to the theme of that particular semester. Students are expected to apply knowledge from course lectures in working on their project work.”
Coffin (2011, 17) remarks that PBL “has gained a reputation of producing students with comprehensive abilities” that are ready to face “the changing world in the globalization era”. PBL is generally regarded as a pedagogical strategy that integrates theoretical subject knowledge with practical skills. Coffin (2011, 18) remarks that PBL represents student-centred pedagogy that “promotes active learning and lifelong learning” based on constructivism learning theory. PBL is further “characterized by flexibility and diversity”. Coffin (2011, 18) cautions that when implementing PBL, there should be awareness “of the differences between PBL used at course level and at system level … what is called PBL curriculum” and emphasise that “four components of PBL must be aligned: PBL curriculum design, PBL tutorials, PBL compatible assessments, and philosophical principles underpining PBL”.
Coffin, P. 2011. Reflections on problem-based learning practice at Aalborg University, 17-30. In J. Davies, E. de Graaff, and A. Kolmos, (Eds.). 2011. PBL across the disciplines: research into best practice. Proceedings from the 3rd International Research Symposium on PBL 28-29 November 2011, Coventry University, UK. Denmark: Aalborg University Press.