Problem-Based Learning: A Research Perspective on Learning Interactions

Problem-Based Learning: A Research Perspective on Learning Interactions

Problem-Based Learning: A Research Perspective on Learning Interactions

Problem-Based Learning: A Research Perspective on Learning Interactions

Synopsis

This volume collects recent studies conducted within the area of medical education that investigate two of the critical components of problem-based curricula--the group meeting and self-directed learning--and demonstrates that understanding these complex phenomena is critical to the operation of this innovative curriculum. It is the editors' contention that it is these components of problem-based learning that connect the initiating "problem" with the process of effective "learning." Revealing how this occurs is the task taken on by researchers contributing to this volume. The studies include use of self-reports, interviews, observations, verbal protocols, and micro-analysis to find ways into the psychological processes and sociological contexts that constitute the world of problem-based learning.

Excerpt

There are many antecedents to problem-based learning in the writings of Bruner, Gagne, and Dewey and it is logical to think that their work inspired its development as an educational method in medicine in the late 1960s. However, its origins were very pragmatic. In 1968, 4 years before the first class entered the new medical school at McMaster University, its education committee undertook the design of the school's curriculum. The physician who was the initial chair of the committee indicated that all members were "frustrated with some aspects of traditional medical education. . . ."(Spaulding, 1991). Students were passive and exposed to too much information, little of which seemed relevant to the practice of medicine. They were bored and disenchanted when medical education should have been exciting. The committee noted that medical education didn't become exciting for students until residency training, when they were working with patients trying to solve their problems. They decided that from the beginning of school, learning would occur around a series of biomedical problems presented in small groups with the faculty functioning as "tutors or guides to learning." No background in educational psychology or cognitive science guided them, just the expressed hope that students would be stimulated by this experience, would see the relevance of what they were learning to their future responsibilities, would maintain a high degree of motivation for learning, and would begin to understand the importance of responsible professional attitudes. In this way, problem-based learning, as a defined curricular method, was born over 3 decades ago.

In the mid 1970s, while attempting to study this seemingly new method in which we were immersed at McMaster, I searched for prior studies about educational methods similar to problem-based learning. The most relevant that could be found at that time was a study by W. H. O. Schmidt from Natal University, South Africa, published in 1965. He used a variation of Katona's (1940) progressive card problems and described the problem-solving ability of a problem-based learning group, as compared to a group taught to memorize how to solve one problem in the initial set of card problems and to another group given only the principles on which the initial set of problems were based. Each group was given progressively more difficult . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.