Problem-Based Learning for Training in Project Management

Problem-Based Learning for Training in Project Management

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 53
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3689-5.ch003


The chapter starts from the viewpoint that Project Management (PM) has become an increasingly important discipline over recent years, not least in view of the number of major infrastructure projects which have been both late and over budget. An increasing number of educational establishments are offering related courses in PM, mainly at Masters level. The chapter begins by giving some examples of PBL-related demonstrations and tasks, suggesting methods which lead into the design of a project management game. TACT (Time and Cost Targeting) is designed around Group Decision Support System (GDSS) methodology. It focusses on multi-activity projects of a complex nature and is based on two well-recognised quantitative PM techniques, Critical Path Analysis (CPA) and Earned Value Method (EVM). A simulated project is used, based on the provision of a “Generator for a Tidal Barrier” and incorporates two distinct phases: Planning and Implementation. Results from preliminary tests based on samples of participating students are described and discussed.
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A number of initiatives have arisen over many decades with the object of complementing and providing benefits additional to those of traditional teaching.

These may be roughly categorized as:

  • Problem Based Learning (PBL).

  • Project Based Learning (PBL or PjBL to avoid confusion).

  • Simulation.

  • Serious Games, in particular Team Based Mixed Reality (TBMR) games.

Although these have entered the educational arena at various stages from the 1960s onward and have their own specific identities, they have certain elements in common. This chapter will begin by discussing these four classifications and identifying what is common between them. Some practical examples of PBL will be looked at, before progressing towards the construction of a comprehensive serious game for training in project management.

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

For over 100 years, educators such as John Dewey (Dewey, 1938) have reported on the benets of experiential, hands-on, student-directed learning. Most teachers, knowing the value of providing engaging, challenging projects for students have planned field trips, laboratory investigations and interdisciplinary activities that enrich and extend the curriculum. For the last 30 years, since it was initiated at Stanford University, researchers have studied, analyzed and promoted the concept known as Problem Based Learning (PBL) and this has been promoted with varying degrees of success through the 1980s and 1990s seeking to promote an active, problem-focused, practice-oriented environment for management education (Bridges, 1989, 1992). While much effort was made to experiment with these ideas in the field of education i.e. in teacher training, there would seem to be parallels with training for business and project management. The goals that PBL promotes include capacities to lead collaboratively, achieve results through others, learn independently and apply management skills (e.g. time management, project management, goal-setting etc.).

While the concept of PBL has been around since the 1960s (Postman and Weingartner, 1969) it has not necessarily been adopted widely by universities. Betancourt (2006) suggests that assessments are frequently unrelated to the context of the workplace, whereas PBL enables students to become more responsible for their own learning, develop a better capacity for reasoning, reflection and collaborative learning. It would be fair to say that serious games encompass the same ideas and benefits as PBL, but can extend the capability by providing an on-going scenario possibly based on a real project, without losing the benefits of PBL, providing collaborative learning and immersion in a closely simulated ‘workplace’ environment.

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