THE PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING (PBL) APPLIED TO HIGHER PROFESSIONAL TRAINING COURSE

A. Coelho1, F. Costa2, J. Costa3, O. Martins4

1Aveiro Institute of Accounting and Administration, University of Aveiro (ISCA-UA) and GOVCOPP Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public (PORTUGAL)
2Aveiro Institute of Accounting and Administration, University of Aveiro (ISCA-UA) (PORTUGAL)
3Higher Institute of Fafe & Polytechnic Institute of Guarda (PORTUGAL)
4Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, CIAEGT-IPT & Polytechnic Institute of Guarda (PORTUGAL)
The rapid development of new technologies, the strong competition, the excessive use of scarce resources, the global warming, the natural disasters are some of the problems that companies need to deal with, in particular companies linked to the tourism sector. In this context, it becomes crucial to prepare students from higher education for the labor market characterized increasingly as global and with evidence of increasingly complex problems. Despite its evident importance, the literature on this subject is still neglected (Scott 2015). Academics recognize the importance of developing teaching-learning strategies in order to prepare students with skills and abilities to solve the real problems faced by the working environment (Yew & Goh, 2016). In this sense, the methodology of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) was implemented in the classroom in order to develop skills related to the real problems resolution and decision making of these same problems. The PBL is an innovative teaching-learning pedagogical method that contributes to the development of Critical Thinking in order to present solutions to problems identified and characterized as real and complex phenom.

In the scope of the curricular unit of Planning and Tourism Policy from 1st curricular year of Higher Professional Training Course (CTeSP) of Management Applied to the Development of Touristic Products (GADPT) at University of Aveiro, Portugal, during the Spring/Summer semester of 2018, the following problem was raised:
- How can the center of Portugal, affected by the forest fires that occurred in 2017, can develop strategies in order to improve tourist destinations’promotion?

Working groups of three to four students were formed at random. The teacher selected the regions that were affected by the fires and that were the subject of study. The students met by group and selected the region they were going to study. Subsequently, these students began researching these regions and collecting the data needed for the study. After the data collection and information treatment, the students presented the regions under study to the other work groups and exchanged some ideas and opinions. The students concluded that there were some similarities due to the proximity of the burnt areas in question and the consequences of this event, but each region showed characteristics of very specific destinations that gave rise to the development and presentation of differentiated strategies. After this brief presentation and description of the target regions of study, the students compared the regions and compared them to regions in other countries affected by natural disasters as well. Finally, the students developed a strategic proposal for the region under study in order to develop the region as a tourist destination. The teacher tried to promote the students' autonomous work, team work and critical thinking.