A Comparative Study of Problem-Based Learning and Traditional Approaches in College English Classrooms: Analyzing Pedagogical Behaviors Via Classroom Observation. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, we described and compared an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher's pedagogical behaviors in traditional and problem-based learning (PBL) classroom settings in a Chinese university. In spring 2019, we collected six 45-min videos, three in each condition, covering three modules: (a) warm-up and vocabulary, (b) essay structure, and (c) writing. The analyses of the teacher's pedagogical behaviors and her interaction with students indicated that the instructor spent most of the instructional time delivering higher-order thinking content in both traditional and PBL classes. The teacher's activity structure influenced students' communication mode. Although the instructor provided students with more group discussion activities in the PBL classroom, lecturing was observed to be the primary delivery method in both classes. These results suggest that the application of PBL strategies in the EFL classroom did not significantly restructure the teacher's pedagogical behaviors, and thus, failed to achieve the goal of providing students with more opportunities for improving their expressive English language proficiency. These findings underscore the need to develop an effective PBL-related curriculum and professional development opportunities for EFL teachers to effectively implement the PBL approach in the classroom.

published proceedings

  • Behav Sci (Basel)

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Tang, S., Long, M., Tong, F., Wang, Z., Zhang, H., & Sutton-Jones, K. L.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Tang, Shifang||Long, Manli||Tong, Fuhui||Wang, Zhuoying||Zhang, Henan||Sutton-Jones, Kara L

publication date

  • January 2020