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Croat Med J. 2006 Jun;47(3):491-8.

Short-term effects of problem-based learning curriculum on students' self-directed skills development.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Ondokuz Mayis University Faculty of Medicine, Samsun, Turkey.



To investigate short-term effects of problem-based learning on students' scientific thinking, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills.


The study was conducted in two medical schools, Ondokuz Mayis University in Samsun and Trakya University in Edirne, Turkey. The two schools used different instructional approaches in educational methods: Ondokuz Mayis University followed a problem-based learning curriculum and Trakya University a traditional didactic curriculum. Three groups of students were included as follows: (a) 83 first-year from Ondokuz Mayis University, who passed an English language proficiency exam; (b) 146 students who failed English language proficiency exam and had to spend a year attending preparatory English language classes before starting their first year at Ondokuz Mayis University (first control group); and (c) 124 students first-year students from Trakya University (second control group). All participants completed the Problem Solving Inventory, Scientific Thinking Skills Questionnaire, and Conflict Resolution Scale at the beginning of the 2003/2004 academic year. The tests were re-administered to same students at the end of the academic year, ie, 10 months later.


Analysis of covariance revealed no differences in pre-test scores among the problem-based learning, first, and second control groups in their scientific thinking (9.0+/-71.2, 8.9+/-3.2, and 8.7+/-1.3, respectively; P=0.124), problem solving (132.2+/-15.4, 131.2+/-16.2, and 132.1+/-17.4, respectively; P=0.454), and conflict resolution skills (112.3+/-14.6, 109.7+/-12.8, and 110.2+/-11.4, respectively; P=0.07). The study group in comparison with first and second control group had significantly better post-test results in scientific thinking (13.9+/-3.5, 9.5+/-2.2, and 9.1+/-2.7, respectively), problem solving (125.5+/-12.6, 130.1+/-11.2, and 131.1+/-15.4, respectively), and conflict resolution skills (125.4+/-12.7, 110.9+/-23.7, and 111.6+/-23.6, respectively) (P<0.001 for all). The skills of the two control groups did not improve in this time period and their post-test scores were not significantly different.


Problem-based learning curricula may positively affect some of the self-directed skills, such as scientific thinking, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills of students, even in a short period of time.

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