Using problem-based learning to bring the workplace into the classroom

Kelsie A. Dadd

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    A modified form of problem-based learning (PBL) with problems based on real workplace scenarios was trialled in a third year university class on Environmental Geology. Problems were developed in consultation with industry and based on their recent projects. These were then modified to allow for the shorter timeframe available, the less developed technical skills of the students, and their inability to collect data on working sites. Students worked in small "company" groups. Each problem required the students to produce a tender or request for proposal (RFP) document and a report based on the industry-standard guidelines. Problem topics included a preliminary investigation of a contaminated site, a geotechnical investigation of a landslide-prone area, and preparation of geological data for an environ-mental impact assessment of a proposed mine site. The unit was designed using PBL as this teaching format leads to increased student engagement with the subject matter and development of a range of graduate attributes. Our modified form of PBL provides a lecture series that gives background to the problems and in this instance, almost all lectures were given by industry representatives. Students en-joyed the overall format and the use of real workplace examples. Group work generally rated more poorly in the unit evaluation than expected. Working with industry brought new challenges largely due to the mobility and time commitments of industry representatives in a field-based and global industry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


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