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Table of Contents
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-3

Ensuring Problem-Based Learning for Medical Students and Looking Forward to Developing Competencies

Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Date of Submission25-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance15-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication8-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Manish Taywade
Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Sijua, Patrapada, Bhubaneswar 751019, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMJM.AMJM_55_21

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Problem-based learning (PBL) is one of the most efficient teaching methods leading to critical thinking and problem-solving abilities or competencies. Medical education has multiple opportunities to use PBL in its curriculum. The educator and students have a bidirectional understanding, which encourages the activation of prior knowledge skills, facilitates the comprehension of new information, and improves learners’ critical thinking. Students have the scope of exploring the topic of interest in a real-life scenario. PBL is an innovative instructional method in which problem forms learning basics, and it allows the students to solve complex issues efficiently. Training of medical students involves both classroom teaching and practical applications. PBL is gaining popularity due to significant suggestions such as students’ learning and encouraging motivation to learn with an interdisciplinary integration of knowledge. PBL is more effective than lecture-based learning in the academic performance of medical students in producing better quality medical students.

Keywords: Competency, medical education, medical students, problem-based learning

How to cite this article:
Taywade M, Gopi K, Pal D, Sahoo BK. Ensuring Problem-Based Learning for Medical Students and Looking Forward to Developing Competencies. Amrita J Med 2022;18:1-3

How to cite this URL:
Taywade M, Gopi K, Pal D, Sahoo BK. Ensuring Problem-Based Learning for Medical Students and Looking Forward to Developing Competencies. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 19];18:1-3. Available from: https://ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2022/18/1/1/344950

  Introduction Top

In 1960, problem-based learning (PBL) was earliest used at McMaster University Medical School by Tamblyn and Barrows.[1] The process of learning and understanding knowledge is called education. In India, the student medical syllabus comprises preclinical and clinical phases.[2] PBL is almost close to case-based learning (CBL) in medical education. PBL is a method of learning that emphasizes the discussion of clinical problems or cases in minor groups, usually superintended by the expert tutor or instructor.[3] Nursing, engineering, and social workers were involved in PBL during their educational system. PBL is an ideal learning approach to teach students to determine complex problems.

In 1894, lecture-based learning (LBL) was first by the American Medical College Association and the American Academy of Medicine.[4] Most medical colleges are using LBL as the central core of medical education.[5] From Students’ learning experience, 80% of students indicated that they learned the material better with PBL, and 56% provided a better climate for learning.[6] Recent evidence of PBL has identified that group-based problem-solving encourages the activation of prior information skills, enables understanding new information, and improves students’ critical thinking. The difference between CBL and PBL is described in [Table 1].
Table 1: Differences case-based learning and problem-based learning[7]

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  Problem-based Learning Relevance Top

An important aspect of PBL is teaching medical science in the context of the clinical problem to make the knowledge more relevant and foster specific reasoning development.

  The Advantages of Problem-based learning Are as Follows Top

Student-based learning

PBL encourages student-based learning. The students dynamically take part in their education and improve skills, student practice knowledge that will urge them to become self-directed learners.[8]

Personal factors

PBL is a more informal form of student learning with greater learning pleasure than traditional teaching methods. It has also created unique interest in the subject by inspiring students to go beyond books.[9]

Instructor–student interaction

Problem-based learning is one of the latest teaching learning methods identified in the literature. It is beneficial both to instructor and students for enriching the learning environment. It is shown that students guided by subject matter experts achieve better and spend more time on self-directed learning.[10]

Teamwork and interpersonal skills

PBL is a communicating teaching method, has the additional benefit of imparting skills such as leadership, teamwork, and delegation, which are all sought-after qualities in the medical profession.[11]

Problem-solving skills

PBL engages students explicitly in solving significant, complex, interdisciplinary problems while emphasizing the need for a deep, conceptual understanding.[8]

  The Disadvantages of Problem-based learning Are as Follows Top

Class size

Primarily, PBL implementing in small team sizes. More often complicated by the presence of the more prevalent large class sizes seen nowadays.[8]


PBL is an efficient method of learning. The 80% portion of the entire syllabus is through PBL sessions can be covered.[11] Traditional approaches are favorable for short-term retention of the subject content that did not require any content elaboration.[12] PBL model is a learning approach that the instructor/facilitator can use to help students solve the problems they face either alone or in small groups. An approach much favored by curriculum plan in the new and better academic graph in institutes. PBL is a better teaching strategy for integrated teaching. Designing of PBL curriculum involves the development of ill-structured but realistic problems, which work as triggers for thinking and learning. The study shows that 24% of male students and 44% of female students responded positively and experienced that PBL sessions helped them learn more about a subject, content than a regular lecture in classes.[13]

PBL sessions have case problems demonstrations and set size group discussions. Students take a moment to critically analyze the problem alone, followed by a discussion among a small group of four that can be a challenge and support each individual’s ideas.[3] Students will be learning how to apply skills to complicated problems is the basis for future advancements in science and better care of patients. Students liked the PBL sessions and experienced that the small size group discussions and presentations of PBL were instrumental in improving their speaking, learning, and communication skills, as evidenced by the results of 59% and 29% female and male students, respectively.[3]

The available evidence suggests that PBL graduates have better problem-solving skills, as reflected by their increased retention of knowledge, better incorporation of science subjects into clinical problems and motivation.[11] The success of a PBL session and accomplishing the intended learning objectives by the students’ active participation. The active involvement in the PBL process is essential in making a reflective practitioner who can work potential in teams in their future clinical practice.

  Problem-based Learning in Indian Scenario Top

Most of the institutions in India follow the traditional type of teaching, including didactic lectures, practical, case studies, field studies, small group discussions like tutorials. Very few medical institutes have inculcated PBL.[3],[14] Using PBL for teaching, their students received favorable feedback. To practice PBL, medical institutions should design their respective curriculum as per their requirement and resources.

Implications of PBL

PBL means less teaching but more student contact in small group work and self-directed learning. Ensure that the material is relevant, practical, and related to learning objectives for teaching. Such discussions can be constructive in improving shared understanding between, for example, medical education, and community level. PBL encourages the students to work on problems for themselves. They integrate students’ experiences, past knowledge, skill, and activities with new knowledge and solve clinically and community-related issues.

  Conclusion Top

PBL is a methodology that is rooted in history. It is one of the student’s centric, active and integrated learning processes. The aim is to educate the student’s self-learning environment and develop the expected competencies to solve the problem of health care.[15],[16]

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Tayyeb R. Effectiveness of problem based learning as an instructional tool for acquisition of content knowledge and promotion of critical thinking among medical students. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2013;23:42-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Bijli N, Shankarappa M. Indian medical students’ perspectives on problem-based learning experiences in the undergraduate curriculum: One size does not fit all. J Eval Health Pro 2012;10:11-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
Chang BJ. Problem-based learning in medical school: A student’s perspective. Ann Med Surg (Lond) 2016;12:88-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bligh J. Problem-based learning in medicine: An introduction. Postgrad Med J 1995;71:323-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Faisal R, Khalil-ur-Rehman, Bahadur S, Shinwari L. Problem-based learning in comparison with lecture-based learning among medical students. J Pak Med Assoc 2016;66:650-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
Wiznia D, Korom R, Marzuk P, Safdieh J, Grafstein B. PBL 2.0: Enhancing problem-based learning through increased student participation. Med Educ Online 2012;17:17375.  Back to cited text no. 6
Daher AM, Singh HJ, Kutty MK. Differentiating case-based learning from problem-based learning after a two-day introductory workshop on case-based learning. Australas Medical J 2017;10:​973-80.  Back to cited text no. 7
Nandi PL, Chan JN, Chan CP, Chan P, Chan LP. Undergraduate medical education: Comparison of problem-based learning and conventional teaching. Hong Kong Med J 2000;6:301-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
Banu A, Khan KA, Rajkumar J. Problem Based Learning in Medical Education: A Review [Internet]; 2014. Available from: www.jermt.org. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 26].  Back to cited text no. 9
Lubawy WC. Evaluating teaching using the best practices model. Am J Pharm Educ 2003;67:87.  Back to cited text no. 10
Shrivastava S, Shrivastava P. Problem-based learning in medicine: Role of medical students and the attributed benefits. J Clin Sci Res 2021;10:129.  Back to cited text no. 11
  [Full text]  
Albanese MA, Mitchell S. Problem-based learning: A review of literature on its outcomes and implementation issues. Acad Med J Ass Am Med Colleges 1993;68:52-81.  Back to cited text no. 12
Prosser M, Sze D. Problem-based learning: Student learning experiences and outcomes. Clin Linguist Phon 2014;28:131-42.  Back to cited text no. 13
Kandi V. Tungiasis presenting as onychomycosis: Probably the first report of flea infestation of the nail observed using modified potassium hydroxide mount technique. Cureus 2018;10:e2278.  Back to cited text no. 14
An Effective Integrated Learning Programme in the First Year of the Medical Course PubMed [Internet]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18472699/. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 7].  Back to cited text no. 15
Teaching Anatomy in a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Curriculum: Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India [Internet]. Available from: https://manipal.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/teaching-anatomy-in-a-problem-based-learning-pbl-curriculum. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 26].  Back to cited text no. 16


  [Table 1]


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