The implementation of problem-based learning towards sustainable learning environment at a higher education institution
Problem-Based Learning is a pedagogical methodology that seeks to develop competent, self-directed, independent-thinking, solution-oriented and pragmatic students, using methods that involve practical problem solving. It is a direct challenge to the conventional teaching methods that are centred on the instructor who directs the theoretical learning process involving minimum student participation. It is also associated with the transformation of education into a vehicle for social justice, political and economic building of a democratic state – a phenomenon referred to in the literature as the sustainable learning environment. The research was based on a Critical Emancipation Research paradigm, using Participative Action Research (PAR) as a research method. It applied a case study research design to study how PBL can be effectively implemented within higher education institutions. It was conducted at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Faculty of Arts among graphic designing students. Data was mainly qualitative and was collected through observation, focus group discussions and structured questionnaires. Data was analysed using narrative analysis, critical discourse analysis, thematic analysis and frequency analysis. PBL, as noted, had various advantages, including making students more competitive in the job market, being good team members and having quality technical, interpersonal and strategic competences. The study also concluded that PBL, because of its focus on problem solving, interaction within diversity and a better comprehension of real-world challenges, had a high appeal in the development of a sustainable learning environment and contributing to social justice and transformation. Due to its many benefits, it was recommended that PBL should be implemented at TUT. The study recommended a nine-step process in the implementation of PBL. It further recommended that an Integrated PBL model was the best form as it enabled students to benefit from both the advantages of PBL and traditional didactic learning. Additionally, it gave students opportunities to adapt to PBL, while still benefitting from traditional didactic learning.