Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education (Dec 2016)

Dealing with Insecurity in Problem Oriented Learning Approaches - The Importance of Problem Formulation

  • Annie Aarup Jensen,
  • Birthe Lund

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 1


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In order to learn and develop creative and innovative competences, students’ may act, experiment, reflect and solve problems (Dewey, 1916).) Creativity is an important component of problem solving (Ruco, 2014). Being sensitive to problems and problem finding characterize creativity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). It is consequently expected that problem oriented group work enhances students’ innovative competences (Illeris, 1974) per se. We question this assumption and present the results of an experiment where students were given a tool designed to support chaotic and unstable processes grounded in management theories. Data from three cohorts of students were analysed based on Engeströms Activity Theory (Engeström 1997, 2009; Engeström & Sannino, 2010) allowing us to uncover aspects of contradictions and potentials of expansive learning. Based on the findings the article discusses to what extent and how the introduction of the new concept and tool influences division of labor and collaboration aiming at developing students’ innovation skills.