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22 March 2023

A different approach to learning: Is phenomenon-based learning the new way to educate?



Staffordshire University Student

In this blog, a Staffordshire University student explains their experience of Phenomenon-Based Learning (PhBL) as a student participant in a QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project. During a series of ‘Stop the Clock’ workshops, student participants immersed themselves in PhBL activities and then provided critical insights to questions about quality, feasibility and assessment. The intelligence gathered from this student engagement is guiding the team from Staffordshire University and Harper Adams to curate a toolkit for educators who wish to embed PhBL in their curricula.


The project team would like to thank the student participants for their insightful contributions.

First impressions

Walking into the room for the first time, I was sceptical and doubtful as to whether I believed that PBHL would be an effective form of teaching (especially for me). With it being a new way of studying, I did, at first, find it hard to understand. This form of studying is different to anything I’ve done before. There have been things along the way that I have been hesitant about, such as how could this new way of learning be used in my area of interest and degree, as this method of teaching seemed to be very broad and not specific. 


Since having this thought, I have taken part in sessions which have allowed me to use my specific area of interest and study and put this into PhBL, proving to me that maybe this could be effective in my degree. As my experience grew, so did my engagement and understanding. I felt myself leaving sessions with questions and intrigued to see what we would do next time.

So, what is PHBL from my point of view?

It seems to be a broader way to study, question and investigate topics in a much deeper way. So, through PhBL you are supported to think more extensively about a topic and cover areas you perhaps wouldn’t as part of your typical module. By engaging with PhBL, I became more aware of what I am interested in and even areas I should and could increase my focus on.


I have yet to finish my experience of PhBL as part of this project, but I continue with a keen interest as to whether this could be the new way of learning in higher education. And importantly with people having preferences for certain ways to learn, is PhBL effective for everyone? Look out for PhBL, it may be the future.