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BMC Med Educ. 2009 Nov 4;9:66. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-9-66.

A descriptive study of medical educators' views of problem-based learning.

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Medical Education Unit, The University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, UK.



There is a growing amount of literature on the benefits and drawbacks of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) compared to conventional curricula. However, it seems that PBL research studies do not provide information rigorously and formally that can contribute to making evidence-based medical education decisions. The authors performed an investigation aimed at medical education scholars around the question, "What are the views of medical educators concerning the PBL approach?"


After framing the question, the method of data collection relied on asking medical educators to report their views on PBL. Two methods were used for collecting data: the questionnaire survey and an online discussion forum.


The descriptive analysis of the study showed that many participants value the PBL approach in the practice and training of doctors. However, some participants hold contrasting views upon the importance of the PBL approach in basic medical education. For example, more than a third of participants (38.5%) had a neutral stance on PBL as a student-oriented educational approach. The same proportion of participants also had a neutral view of the efficiency of traditional learning compared to a PBL tutorial. The open-ended question explored the importance of faculty development in PBL. A few participants had negative perceptions of the epistemological assumptions of PBL. Two themes emerged from the analysis of the forum repliers: the importance of the faculty role and self-managed education.


Whilst many participants valued the importance of the PBL approach in the practice and training of doctors and agreed with most of the conventional descriptions of PBL, some participants held contrasting views on the importance of the PBL approach in undergraduate medical education. However there was a strong view concerning the importance of facilitator training. More research is needed to understand the process of PBL better.

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