Dr. Howard Barrows noticed two things about medical students. First, 3rd year students had forgotten much of what they learned in the first two years of medical school where the emphasis is on memorization of facts and information.
Second, many students were bored or overwhelmed in these first two years. Many dropped out during this time. Those that endured became excited and engaged in the third year when they began interacting with patients and real-world medical problems.
So, Dr. Barrows developed problem-based learning (PBL) which places first year students into groups where they work collaboratively to solve real-world problems. These problems are in the form of patient symptoms.
These students use their current knowledge as well as research new knowledge in pursuit of solving this problem. This method not only gives them context for learning new facts and information, but also problem-solving skills relevant to their field.
What is the major difference between traditional medical school programs and a PBL medical school program?
- The pinatas are fuller in PBL programs.
- Tuition is higher in traditional programs.
- Students work on real-world problems their first year in traditional programs.
- Students work on real-world problems their first year in PBL programs.