Design Thinking as a Strategy to Inculcate Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in Undergraduate Education Across South Asian Universities

Shakuntala Acharya, Apoorv Naresh Bhatt, Amaresh Chakrabarti, Venkata S.K. Delhi, Jan Carel Diehl, Nelson Mota, Andrius Jurelionis, Riina Subra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The Bologna declaration states that, “successful learning and studying in higher education should involve students in deep learning”. However, a survey of faculty across institutes in Nepal and Bhutan highlights that the undergraduate students in engineering and management lack skills needed to be industry-ready. They face difficulty in getting employed after graduation and if placed, then struggle during their employment due to insufficient practical experience, lack of good communication skills and unawareness of broader socio-economic contexts. The Erasmus + funded project, “Strengthening Problem-based learning in South Asian Universities” (PBL South Asia) is an endeavour to address these pressing concerns in education quality, employability and overall sustainable development of the region and to imbibe deep learning capabilities. Therefore, as an empirical study to clarify and in turn, inculcate PBL in South Asian undergraduate education, the young faculty of the inexperienced institutes from Nepal and Bhutan, alongside the students from the experienced institutes from India and Europe, were mentored by faculty and researchers from the latter to undertake multidisciplinary case studies. The strategy of “design thinking” was employed to methodologically guide the cases and keep it consistently problem-based, i.e. the learning is driven by the problem with no one correct solution. Results showed that the participants reflected improvement in problem-solving skills and increased motivation, apart from enhanced collaboration and improved communication ability. Based on these findings, further development of curricula to imbibe PBL in its existing courses and guidelines to train the trainers for implementation of the same, are currently in progress.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign for Tomorrow - Proceedings of ICoRD 2021
EditorsAmaresh Chakrabarti, Ravi Poovaiah, Prasad Bokil, Vivek Kant
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-16-0119-4
ISBN (Print)978-981-16-0118-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event8th International Conference on Research into Design, ICoRD 2021 - Mumbai (remote), Virtual, Online, India
Duration: 7 Jan 202110 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameSmart Innovation, Systems and Technologies
ISSN (Print)2190-3018
ISSN (Electronic)2190-3026


Conference8th International Conference on Research into Design, ICoRD 2021
Abbreviated titleICoRD'21
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


  • Design pedagogy
  • Design thinking
  • Higher education
  • Problem-based learning
  • South Asia


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