This study investigated the relationship between higher education and the requirement of the world of work with an emphasis on the effect of problem-based learning (PBL) on graduates' competencies.
The implementation of full PBL method is costly (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993; Berkson, 1993; Finucane, Shannon, & McGrath, 2009). However, the implementation of PBL in a less than curriculum-wide mode is more achievable in a broader context (Albanese, 2000). This means higher education institutions implement only a few PBL components in the curriculum. Or a teacher implements a few PBL components at the courses level. For this kind of implementation there is a need to identify PBL components and their effects on particular educational outputs (Hmelo-Silver, 2004; Newman, 2003). So far, however there has been little research about this topic.
The main aims of this study were: (1) to identify each of PBL components which were manifested in the development of a valid and reliable PBL implementation questionnaire and (2) to determine the effect of each identified PBL component to specific graduates' competencies. The analysis was based on quantitative data collected in the survey of medicine graduates of Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. A total of 225 graduates responded to the survey.
The result of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) showed that all individual constructs of PBL and graduates' competencies had acceptable GOFs (Goodness-of-fit). Additionally, the values of the factor loadings (standardize loading estimates), the AVEs (average variance extracted), CRs (construct reliability), and ASVs (average shared squared variance) showed the proof of convergent and discriminant validity. All values indicated valid and reliable measurements.
The investigation of the effects of PBL showed that each PBL component had specific effects on graduates' competencies. Interpersonal competencies were affected by Student-centred learning (β = .137; p < .05) and Small group components (β = .078; p < .05). Problem as stimulus affected Leadership (β = .182; p < .01). Real-world problems affected Personal and organisational competencies (β = .140; p < .01) and Interpersonal competencies (β = .114; p < .05). Teacher as facilitator affected Leadership (β = 142; p < .05). Self-directed learning affected Field-related competencies (β = .080; p < .05). These results can help higher education institution and educator to have informed choice about the implementation of PBL components. With this information higher education institutions and educators could fulfil their educational goals and in the same time meet their limited resources.
This study seeks to improve prior studies' research method in four major ways: (1) by indentifying PBL components based on theory and empirical data; (2) by using latent variables in the structural equation modelling instead of using a variable as a proxy of a construct; (3) by using CFA to validate the latent structure of the measurement, thus providing better evidence of validity; and (4) by using graduate survey data which is suitable for analysing PBL effects in the frame work of the relationship between higher education and the world of work.