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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 27

Problem based learning curriculum under institutional setting develop lifelong learners: a misnomer?

Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Kanachur Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission17-Sep-2020
Date of Decision01-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance14-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication18-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Syed Sadat Ali
#78, Cambridge Layout, 7th Cross, Ulsoor, Bengaluru - 560 008, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMJM.AMJM_59_20

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How to cite this article:
Ali SS. Problem based learning curriculum under institutional setting develop lifelong learners: a misnomer?. Amrita J Med 2021;17:27

How to cite this URL:
Ali SS. Problem based learning curriculum under institutional setting develop lifelong learners: a misnomer?. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 21];17:27. Available from: https://www.ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2021/17/1/27/316315

Dear Editor,

The current trend in medical education is to develop students as lifelong learners and the curriculum to be student centric. There is increased focus on the adaptability of new curriculum, thereby diverting from traditional teaching. Several instructional strategies have been implemented to improve the program outcomes in recent decades, and problem-based learning (PBL) has become more prominent among them, being a nontraditional, active, inductive, student-centered approach to learning which enables students to gain competence in self-learning, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Medical schools tend to determine a suitable curriculum that prepares physicians for professional practice in the rapidly changing health care.

Few medical schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have adopted new tools for teaching and learning (PBL) or hybrid PBL (modified as per the institutional setting) within their curricula, diverting from traditional curriculum. Students taught with the PBL curriculum were found to have achieved higher scores in multiple-choice questions and objective structured practical examinations examination with enhanced basic knowledge and problem-solving skills compared with those taught with traditional (lecture) methods. Their communication and team skills had been improved due to group discussion.[1] In another study, PBL was found costly and stressful to students and faculty. Students from conventional programs tended to perform better on Traditional measures of academic achievement. No difference was found in knowledge acquisition between PBL and traditional students and no investigations were designed to assess equivalence. Twenty-two years of evidence does not provide an unequivocal support for enhanced learning through PBL. The curriculum-wide PBL programs varied across studies: while the focus of the PBL programs involved small group learning with problem-based discussions, the programs differed with respect to the level of student independence, extent of supplementary lectures, use of other active learning strategies (e.g., simulated patients), and timing and extent of community-based exposure.[2]

Although the literature shows the strengths and weaknesses of both of these approaches in different regional environments, PBL is being adopted in some Saudi Arabian medical schools without any available regional evidence in favor of this approach. I have a critical view that PBL integrated with traditional lectures and gradual increase in self-directed learning will facilitate students' progress through their medical education, provided that PBL is implemented in its unblended method rather hybrid and as per the setting of the institute.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Meo SA. Evaluating learning among undergraduate medical students in schools with traditional and problem-based curricula. Adv Physiol Educ 2013;37:249-53.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hartling L, Spooner C, Tjosvold L, Oswald A. Problem-based learning in pre-clinical medical education: 22 years of outcome research. Med Teach 2010;32:28-35.  Back to cited text no. 2


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