*(PBL) Problem-Based Learning

PBL is a method of teaching used by many Medical Schools. It usually involves a small group (around eight students plus a staff facilitator) delivering learning objectives from a scenario based on a patient, and then going away and researching around these for a feedback session.

Here are five reasons why PBL is beneficial to students and should be embraced:

  1. You remember more with PBL

PBL is interactive, unlike lectures which will likely form the majority of your teaching. Almost opposite in style to PBL, lectures involve someone with a presentation talking to students for an hour, rarely with interactive elements.

Students participate in PBL; switching off is not an option. It is this active nature that helps students better retain the content.

  1. Working together

Teamwork is essential. PBL by yourself would not be the most effective way of learning. It is great to bounce ideas off each other and learn from your peers. Often students will find that they explain things in ways lecturers don’t – helping to better understand the key concepts.

Teamwork is an integral part of being a doctor, so it is a great time to start developing these skills. More people mean more ideas and different insights you may not usually have. This is usually great but can sometimes lead to disagreements, which are equally important to learn how to handle.

It is great the team spirit medical students develop once they get to know their group. Working with friends is so important in medical school, and PBL is a great place to start!

  1. It introduces clinical aspects

The PBL scenario often introduces a patient with a little background, then goes on to discuss their condition and sometimes treatment. Despite not actually being real patients, it feels more important than just learning about a condition. Students really consider the person and the impact s/he has on their life, not just the medical aspect. Often look for support groups and think about how family members will be affected.

Not only does it make the condition more memorable but it ensures doctors don’t lose sight of the patient as a person, which prepares them well for clinical practice.

  1. PBL encourages independent learning

PBL requires self-motivation, but students can really take PBL in whatever direction they want! Students definitely aren’t spoon fed and as feedback is normally closed book after the first term, they are pushed to learn the information properly first time.

This feels like a pain at the time, but they are certainly grateful when exam time comes around and they remember the majority of the content! It also improves  research skills and creating notes eventually helps the assimilation of knowledge.


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