This study investigated the development of engineering students’ approaches to learning and views on collaboration in a PBL environment.
Material and methods:
An explanatory mixed research approach was employed with participants from four PBL-implementing engineering courses in Qatar and China. 197students responded to two surveys, and 168 students participated in group interviews.
While the study reveals increased adoption of deep approaches to learning on team projects, little influence on surface approaches to learning was found. The study also provides evidence supporting the positive relationship between students’ adoption of deep learning approaches and their acknowledgement of values of collaboration in teamwork.
This study suggests that while PBL characteristics may support deep learning, certain factors may underpin surface learning, including a feeling of insecurity during first experiences with it, lack of skills, and assessment methods that favor surface learning. Further efforts on engaging students with PBL may benefit both deep learning and team effectiveness.