Providing higher education which is also relevant for a society and its labor market is one of the biggest challenges in the educational system of today (e. g. George, 2006; Gibbons, 1998; Teichler, 2015). This provision of relevant higher education calls for the implementation and use of instructional formats which hold the power to bridge research, teaching and practice in a feasible way (e. g. Gómez et al., 2007). Specifically, respective formats for that must provide both learning for the development of a scholarly mindset and for the acquisition of work-related generic and discipline- specific competences (e. g. Chu, Reynolds, Tavares, Notari, & Lee, 2017). Aalborg University holds a long tradition of basing its teaching on the principles of Problem-based Learning (PBL, e. g. Kolomos, Fink, & Krogh, 2004). Parallelly, the Danish higher education sector in general is focused on providing societally relevant learning outcomes (Vingaard Johansen et al., 2017), with in the last two decades establishing a close relation with stakeholders from the corporate world to ensure the relevance of candidates’ competences for the labor market. At Aalborg University this shows as a dual relevance orientation throughout the study programs, with a specific, yet continuously evolving interpretation of Problem-based Learning that explicitly addresses the connection between scholarly learning and the use of the knowledge in concrete vocational fields. The present symposium will present current examples of how PBL is used at Aalborg University to provide an education which addresses both the development of a scholarly mindset and the affordances of the (Danish) labor market. This comprises cross-faculty collaborations and an adaption of the traditionally semester-long PBL project work to fit with a more timely, short-term format (paper #1), the collaboration with a local company in early stages of a study program (paper #2) and the re-conceptualization of competence expectations towards PBL through the student perspective (paper #3). Together the three papers shed light on both instructional variations and new conceptions of intended outcomes of learning with the PBL approach in the light of a close relation between higher education and the societal affordances.
Period28 Oct 2019
Event titleThe Higher Education Conference 2019: Exploring the research-teaching-praxis nexus
Event typeConference
Conference number2
LocationAmsterdam, Netherlands
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Problem-based learning
  • inquiry-based instruction
  • labor market
  • competences
  • workplace integration