Is PBL better than traditional curriculum?
- By: Wai-Ching Leung
Since the problem based learning (PBL) curriculum was first introduced at McMaster medical school in the late 1960s it has been widely recognised as a progressive learner-centred active learning approach and currently underpins the philosophy of the entire medical curriculum in over 10% of medical schools worldwide.1 In the United Kingdom medical schools in Manchester, Glasgow, and Liverpool have already adopted the PBL curriculum as recommended by the General Medical Council,2 and several other schools have partially done so or are planning to do so.
But what is PBL? Although many medical teachers hold strong views on what counts as PBL, there is no universal definition.3 Typically, students working in small groups are given written real life problems. From these problems the students identify phenomena which require explanations, agree on learning objectives, research individually on identified issues, report back, and apply newly acquired information to the problem.4 The term PBL