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Title: Preparing Graduates for Professional Practice: findings from a case-stdy of project-based learning (PBL)
Authors: Fernandes, Sandra
Keywords: Higher education
Project-based learning
Professional practice
Students' and teachers' perceptions
Issue Date: 22-Aug-2014
Publisher: Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences
Abstract: This paper reports on a case study based on the use of Project-based Learning (PBL) in higher education to improve student learning and prepare graduates for professional practice. The theoretical background is based on the principles of active learning and the demands of the Bologna process for European Higher Education Institutions. These ideas are also aligned with the educational philosophy advocated by John Dewey, supporting the main goals of project-based learning approaches: linking theory to practice by solving real life problems related to learners’ future professional contexts. The paper will present findings based on students’ and teachers’ perceptions in regard to the effectiveness of PBL in preparing graduates for professional practice. Data collection was based on a qualitative approach, using questionnaires and focus groups for students, and was semi-structured for teachers. Findings are presented according to the three main categories emerging from the data: linking theory to practice, developing skills for professional practice, and difficulties and challenges of PBL. Based on students’ and teachers’ perceptions, it can be concluded that PBL fosters deep-level learning and important skills for professional practice, as the development of the project provides a real life context for linking theory to practice. Students are able to relate their work to broader professional situations outside the academic world. The difficulties and challenges of PBL are mainly related to the heavy workload which it entails and the assessment method. These issues require further reflection and improvement. Implications for teaching and learning in higher education are discussed.
Appears in Collections:INPP - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais / Papers in International Journals

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