„… to actually use my knowledge by working on a solution for a real-life problem was more useful to me than any exam…“ This is just one of many students’ statements who worked with Problem-Based Learning during their 2nd semester in Tourism Management Studies.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a student-centered teaching method that meets the requirements of modern higher education. PBL supports students to develop self-directed learning strategies as well as critical knowledge, problem-solving proficiency and team-participation skills. A PBL class always starts with presenting a real-world and urgent problem to the students. Real-life problems are usually complex and have multiple causes –students learn to deal with that complexity and uncertainty by analysing, systemising, evaluating and solving the problem in small groups. Instead of the teacher providing lectures and the correct solution, the learners identify their gaps of knowledge and set their personal learning goals. Teachers (PBL coaches) and students meet each other at eye level. The PBL coaches’ main role is to facilitate the learning process by encouraging students and setting the framework of the sessions. Hence, students are able to develop their personal knowledge and competencies. At the end of the course students present their solution to the company which provided the case. By getting feedback from the company, from a field expert and from the PBL coach and by reflecting their learning process, students learn a lot about their professional knowledge and their social skills and, eventually, grow in regards to their personal development. PBL helps to actively design a new learning culture.