Otago Polytechnic

Evaluate the effectiveness of project-based learning in a hospitality management programme for developing work-ready students

Daniel Pfyl
10 December 2019

Pfyl, D. (2019). Evaluate the effectiveness of project-based learning in a hospitality management programme for developing work-ready students. A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice [PDF 2.79MB]


My writing of this report and critical commentary was based on the belief that Project Based Learning (PBL) strategies are an effective way to guide students’ learning and to develop work-ready capabilities for the 21st century.

The purpose of this work based research (WBR) project was to investigate if PBL was an effective teaching and learning strategy for developing work-ready students. Therefore graduates of this programme will be work-ready with transferable skills to take them to their chosen career path and equip them for the inevitable changes on the horizon, with the disruption predicted in the future. A further inclusion to the purpose was to look for successes and challenges with this PBL approach.

The literature review in phase 1 explored contemporary PBL approaches, in particular the effectiveness of the approach to guide students’ learning and development of work-ready capabilities. I explored what the difference is between designing learning and teaching to develop technical skills and learner capabilities.

For phases 2 and 3, a mixed methods research approach has been used as a general review of the programme and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the PBL approach. This research approach was chosen because the data gathered included both quantitative and qualitative information to help ensure triangulation.

I included student evaluations and surveys for the student voice and colleagues from the Food Design Institute (FDI) in my focus group meeting, to widen the educational perspective. During my research into PBL for my WBR project I looked for successes, but also the challenges of using PBL. This gave me the ability to put it into context with my research project which was undertaken in a hospitality management programme.

I also included justification for my learner capabilities embedded into the educational design, but also acknowledge that since the Learner Capability Framework research in 2018 and subsequent draft report of the top 10 industry specific requirements from our graduates, that this is in need of review.

In the results section I present the integrated qualitative and quantitative information and data I have collected and highlight the findings and main themes. My desire was to use my teacher self-evaluation to reflect on my professional practice and determine potential need for change. The response, changes needed and adjustments that were required ‘on the fly’, from the feedback gathered are described in the discussion section.

The aim was to investigate my professional practices and how they changed along this MPP journey. These are scattered throughout this WBR project but also summarised in my reflection and critical commentary section. This includes my professional practice shift and my personal opportunities for improvement. I finish with my recommendation for future research, in context with my programme. The content of this report used multiple documents and this is highlighted in the appendices.

This research was supervised by Bronwyn Hegarty.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License.

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