Erasmus PhD student Lisette Wijnia has won an award for her thesis on problem-based learning (PBL). The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation awards research prizes each year to talented young researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Lisette Wijnia is one of this year’s five winners. She has been awarded a sum of € 3,000. The young PhD student was pleasantly surprised by the news, as she had no idea that her thesis had been nominated. In her research, she focused on the motivation and performance of students in problem-based learning (PBL): “Self-directed learning aims to intrinsically motivate students in their studies. However many students and staff members express uncertainty regarding the process: are students reading the ‘right’ literature for their exam, and can they adequately answer the learning questions?”

The success of self-directed learning depends on the guidance from the tutor, the student’s prior knowledge and capacity for self-reflection. Nevertheless, Wijnia believes that PBL will be given considerable scope in education and at work: “Self-directed learning is important because the current society is rapidly changing. At work, for example, you may be faced with technological changes or new knowledge which affects how you do your job. At that point, you need to determine your own learning needs, select study material and decide on learning strategies.” NB