Transformation towards problem-based learning in East and Southern Africa: Perceptions from the field

Main Article Content

Satu Määttänen
Ulla-Maija Knuutti
Eija Laitinen


Student-centered learning methods, such as problem-based learning (PBL) are suggested as a method to provide future graduates with the 21st century skills needed in the rapidly changing world and working life. Transformation from traditional lecture-based teaching towards PBL requires role transformation from all the main university stakeholders: teachers, management staff and students, yet this change is not easy. To understand how to enhance and assist the transformation towards competence-based learning, we examined teachers’ perceptions towards learning and teaching, with special focus on PBL. The data were collected through short anonymous surveys with open-ended questions, during problem-based learning program organized for East and Southern African university teachers. The results show that teachers clearly recognize the need for role and responsibility transformation when converting to PBL, and acknowledge that this transformation require wider mind-set and policy changes in the whole academic community. Teachers are able to pinpoint the practical elements needed for, and elements limiting, education paradigm shift towards PBL. To overcome the current challenges and to encourage adoption and implementation of PBL, teachers will require institutional support and capacity development, especially in terms of pedagogical trainings. Themes and concerns raised by teachers themselves should be prioritized and should be at the core of all projects and interventions promoting PBL.

Key words: Higher education, problem-based learning, Sub-Saharan Africa

Article Details