Students Attitudes towards Group-Based Project Exams in Two Engineering ProgrammesReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education, v3 n2 p62-79 2015

At Aalborg University, engineering students spend half the time each semester in groups working on projects in a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum. The projects are assessed through group exams, except for between 2007 and 2013 when the law forbade group-based project exams. Prior to 2007, a survey showed that students preferred the group-based project exams and a new study was consequently conducted after the 2013 reintroduction of group exams. Again, the results demonstrated that students prefer the group exam, but that there are significant differences between students from various engineering programmes. We compare the two programmes "Architecture and Design" and "Software Engineering", and find that students in the latter programme feel more positively towards the group exam. A further result is that one-third of the students testified that facing a new type of exam did not affect their behaviour at all. This might suggest that the "backwash" effect of an exam on student behaviour is not as present in these students as is often expected and argued in education research. We also argue that what the students' base their views upon forms part of the informal or experienced curriculum, which is not necessarily equal to the formal curriculum.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, College Students, Problem Based Learning, Teaching Methods, Group Activities, Cooperative Learning, Evaluation Methods, Student Evaluation, Architecture, Design, Computer Software, Engineering, Student Attitudes, Group Testing, Statistical Analysis, Questionnaires

Aalborg University Press. Skjernvej 4A, 2.sal, 9000, Aalborg, Denmark. Web site:

Author: Dahl, Bettina; Kolmos, Anette


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