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Problem-based learning - A proposal for structuring PBL and its implications for learning among students in an undergraduate management degree program

Anielson Barbosa Da Silva, Ana Carolina Kruta de Araújo Bispo, Danilo Goncalves Rodriguez, Francisco Ialyson Felipe Vasquez


Abstract Purpose –

The purpose of this paper is to present a proposal for structuring the use of problem-based learning (PBL) as an active teaching strategy and assess PBL’s implications for student learning in the undergraduate management degree program of a federal university in Northeastern Brazil. PBL can turn students into active subjects in their own learning and promote the development of decision-making abilities through the identification and analysis of real problems. Design/methodology/approach – The study follows the assumptions of qualitative research and uses the action research approach. The data were collected through reflective reports (texts freely written by students describing their experiences in a course) and through interviews. The collected material formed the basis for analysis and discussion of the results using content analysis. Findings – The results indicate that the PBL teaching strategy has positive implications for student learning in that it promotes the integration of theory and practice, which enhances the motivation to learn. The students perceived the practical aspect, teamwork and presence of an entrepreneur/manager in the PBL classes as factors facilitating learning. By contrast, teamwork and the time involved were seen as factors limiting learning. Practical implications – The use of PBL demonstrates its potential for learning through the integration of students’ cognitive, behavioral and social dimensions, fostering closer integration with the context of professional activity. The presence of entrepreneurs/managers who present real problems to be analyzed by the students in the classroom can contribute significantly to the promotion of learning and reflection by undergraduate management students. Originality/value – The results of this study reveals its originality and value to management education in Brazil because it defines a framework for the implementation of PBL as an active learning strategy in a management program, it indicates the potential of PBL for the development of students’ competencies, it increases the potential for integrating theory with professional practice and it can aid the process of training teachers as they assess the implications of PBL for student learning.


Problem-based learning, Management degree programme, Active learning strategy

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