Problem-based learning: Where are we now? Guide supplement 36.1 - Viewpoint

Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh 11427, Saudi Arabia.
Medical Teacher (Impact Factor: 1.68). 03/2011; 33(3):e121-2. DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.540595
Source: PubMed


The AMEE Guide No 36 by Taylor and Miflin (2008) provides an excellent resource about the current status of problem-based learning (PBL). The authors discussed the roots of PBL and generated hypotheses about possible causes for the confusion about PBL. They also discussed a number of challenges facing PBL. The guide is worth reading by novice PBL tutors and experienced medical and health educators. In this article, I would like to reflect on some of the challenges facing PBL and provide an insight into practical issues related to these challenges.

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Available from: Samy Azer, Aug 01, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a whole-curriculum concept. This study aimed to compare learning preferences and strategies between physical therapy students taught by PBL and those receiving conventional lectures on massage therapy, trauma physical therapy, and electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, and thermotherapy. This quasi-experimental study included 182 male and female students on physical therapy diploma courses at three universities in Andalusia (Spain). The Canfield Learning Skills Inventory (CLSI) was used to assess learning strategies and the Approaches to Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) to analyze study preferences. At the end of the academic year 2009/10, physical therapy students taught by PBL considered the most important learning strategies to be group work, study organization, relationship of ideas, and academic results. In comparison to conventionally taught counterparts, they considered that PBL reduced lack of purpose, memorizing without relating, the law of minimum effort, and fear of failure. Among these PBL students, the most highly rated study preferences were: organization of course tasks, cordial interaction with the teacher, learning by reading and images, and direct hands-on experience. For these physical therapy students, PBL facilitates learning strategies and study preferences in comparison to conventional teaching.
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    ABSTRACT: Since problem-based learning (PBL) sessions require a combination of active discussion, group interaction, and inductive and reflective thinking, students with different learning styles can be expected to perform differently in the PBL sessions. Using "Learning Style Inventory Questionnaire," students were divided into separate active and reflective learner groups. Tutors were asked to observe and assess the students' behavioral performance during the PBL sessions for a period of 5 weeks. A questionnaire of 24 items was developed to assess students' behavioral performance in PBL sessions. Active students tended to use multiple activities to obtain the needed information were more adjusted to the group norms and regulation and more skillful in using reasoning and problem-solving skills and in participation in discussion. On the other hand, reflective students used independent study more, listened actively and carefully to others and used previously acquired information in the discussion more frequently. Formative assessment quizzes did not indicate better performance of either group. There were no significant gender differences in PBL behavioral performance or quizzes' scores. Active and reflective learners differ in PBL class behavioral performance but not in the formative assessment. We recommend that students should be informed about their learning style and that they should learn strategies to compensate for any lacks in PBL sessions through self-study. Also, educational planners should ensure an adequate mix of students with different learning styles in the PBL groups to achieve PBL desired objectives.
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    ABSTRACT: It is still unclear to what extent the PBL tutor affects learning in PBL-sessions. This mixed-methods study (Part 1 and 2) evaluated the effects of facilitative (f) versus non-facilitative (nf) tutoring roles on knowledge-gain and group functioning in the field of endodontics. Part 1 was a quantitative assessment of tutor effectiveness within a prospective, experimental, single-blind, stratified, randomized, two-group intervention study. Participants attended PBL in the context of a hybrid curriculum. A validated questionnaire was used and knowledge assessments were conducted before and after the intervention. External observers rated tutor performance. Part 2 was a qualitative assessment of tutor effectiveness and consisted of semi-structured expert interviews with tutors and focus group discussions with students. Part 1: f tutors obtained significantly higher scores than nf tutors with respect to learning motivation and tutor effectiveness (p ≤ 0.05). nf tuition resulted in a slightly larger knowledge gain (p = 0.08). External observers documented a significantly higher activity among facilitative tutors compared to non-facilitative tutors. Part 2: Tutors found the f role easier although this led to a less autonomous working climate. The students rated f tutoring as positive in all cases. With respect to PBL-group performance, students felt that groups guided in a non-facilitative fashion exhibited a higher level of independence and autonomy, especially with increasing PBL experience. In addition, students reported that more preparation was necessary for sessions guided by a non-facilitative tutor. Tutors were able to modify their role and influence group processes in a controlled manner. Results are useful for future “Train-the-Teacher” sessions.
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