SA Journal of Education, Vol 34, No 1 (2014)

Introducing problem-based learning (PBL) into a foundation programme to develop self-directed learning skills

Sharon B Malan, Mdutshekelwa Ndlovu, Petra Engelbrecht


This article reports on the qualitative aspects of a study that examined whether introducing a
Problem-based Learning (PBL) approach in a one-year foundation programme can create
conditions for learners to develop and sustain self-directed learning skills. This interpretive-
constructivist case study was located in evaluation research. Data were collected by means of
classroom observations and interviews with 35 students and 14 former students. Findings
indicated that introducing students to a PBL approach did promote more meaningful learning
patterns, typified by processing the subject matter critically and self-regulating learning
processes. The sustainability of the meaning-directed learning skills was questionable if student
beliefs in the approach did not support the activities employed. Introducing PBL into a foun-
dation programme can develop self-directed learning skills in students and set in motion a
process of growth towards lifelong learning.

doi: 10.15700/201412120928

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