1 Research Centre in Digitalization and Intelligent Robotics (CeDRI), Instituto Politécnico de Bragança (PORTUGAL)
2 Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, CIEC-Universidade do Minho (PORTUGAL)
3 Instituto Politécnico de Bragança (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 1692-1699
ISBN: 978-84-09-55942-8
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2023.0505
Conference name: 16th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 13-15 November, 2023
Location: Seville, Spain
Improving the teaching and learning process in higher education is challenging for institutions. The authors of this article, researchers and professors, reflect on the use of problem-based learning (PBL) in the context of software development classes in a Portuguese higher education institution.
As characteristics of the PBL methodology, followed in teaching and learning sessions, the following stand out: the primacy given to students' ideas, allowing them to learn from experience by putting their ideas into practice; the promotion and execution of tasks strongly associated with the real world and with application to real situations.
Several authors argue that the PBL methodology, among other potentialities, allows students to become creative and develop skills to find solutions to the problems of their professional life.
The experience of using the PBL methodology took place in the academic year 2021/2022 in two-course units of a master's in Informatics at a Portuguese institution of higher education. Sixty-four students attended these curricular units, and 44 answered a questionnaire, which constituted the sample of this study.
The main objectives of this study were: to identify students' perceptions regarding the promotion of skills with the PBL methodology and to evaluate the process of a software development project supported by the PBL methodology. Although this study assesses students' perceptions, it is essentially quantitative.
Regarding the results, a four-point Likert-type scale with "I totally disagree", "I disagree", "I agree", and "I totally agree", was used to identify the student's perception of the importance of PBL methodology for promoting skills development. Among the evaluated items, the following stand out: "Creativity and innovation", "Critical thinking", "Autonomy", and "Ability to work in teams". In all items, the student's perception was in options "I agree", and "I totally agree" with more than 75% of the students participating in the study. The perception that the PBL methodology promotes "Autonomy" was highlighted by 95% of the answers.
Concerning the development process of a software project, the following items were analysed: "The problem addressed is interesting", "The problem addressed is current", "The project promotes the discussion of ideas with colleagues", and "The project fosters the development of skills appropriate to the professional context". In all items, the student's perception represented more than 60% of the answers in the options "I agree" and "I totally agree", and more than 90% of these answers were for the expressions "The problem addressed is current" and "The project favours the discussion of ideas with colleagues".
From the students' appreciation of the use of the PBL methodology to promote skills and the assumptions associated with it, this methodology should continue to deserve the attention of researchers, professors and higher education institutions to improve learning practices and promote the necessary skills required by the labour market.
Project-based learning, practice-based learning methodologies, professional skills, software development, higher education.