Problem based learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) is consistent with the adult learning model that we seek to promote. Working on problems collaboratively in a small group environment draws on a range of skills and abilities that are often unfamiliar to trainees.

PBL in our programme is a group-based approach to working on a clinical or clinically-related scenario which provides the ‘stimulus material’. The group works together on the problem, allocating tasks and responsibilities during the project. This presentation is an assignment. After the group presentation, it is written up individually, and developed in the light of that individual's experience and further reading.

The PBL is based on the learning outcomes that are predetermined within the curriculum. PBL group work involves some clear roles, for example, chair, scribe. The academic/PBL tutor acts as a facilitator.

Because the stimulus material is not complete, there is considerable scope for the group to explore different ways of addressing the issues, to reflect on their own involvement in the group process, the ethics of the approach they have taken and many other benefits.

Trainees are expected to collaborate fully in the group work.

It is recognised that managing group dynamics in PBL groups is often demanding. Facilitation is available through the PBL tutor system.

The aims of the PBL facilitation groups are to provide support to enable trainees to manage any difficulties that might emerge in the group, to ensure that the groups are developing effective ways of working. PBL facilitators do not provide ‘expert’ input to the work of the group. There are two PBL facilitation groups in years 1 and 2.