The Genealogy of Problem-oriented Project Learning and Current Challenges to Student Learning

Projekter: ProjektForskning



Problem-oriented project work (or Project-oriented Project Learning, PPL) is a widespread practice across the educational system. In spite of its popularity, the theoretical composition and the conceptual history of this pedagogical approach remain somewhat messy and nebulous.

This ph.d.-project sets out to do two things.

Firstly, it wants to take a closer look at the theoretical and philosophical roots of PPL – how has it been conceptualized? What arguments have been the driving force in the concept from the 70’s and until now? This investigation is carried out from a Foucaultian Genealogy perspective, where the aim is to try to put together the ‘family history’ of PPL. The ‘history’ is understood as a construct and the intention is not to make a chronological, coherent narrative, but rather to deconstruct the concept of PPL and make the conceptual composition explicit and situated. In this way, the hope is to better understand what PPL is ‘made of’ theoretically and philosophically. Concretely, the study entails an empirically heavy document-based discourse analysis of central texts connected to PPL. The primary context and starting point for the analysis revolves around documents related to the reform universities of Roskilde University and Aalborg University as both institutions were instrumental in the development of PPL.

The second part of the project will be putting the insights of the genealogical investigation in dialogue with contemporary challenges to higher education nationally and internationally with a specific critical focus on ‘student learning’ and the notion of ‘student-centeredness’ in educational theory and policy. The idea is to see what can be learned from revitalizing and re-introducing some of the theoretical inspirations to PPL in a neoliberal higher education climate.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/03/201928/02/2022


  • PPL
  • Problem orientation
  • Project work
  • Genealogy
  • Discourse analysis
  • Learning
  • Student learning
  • University