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      Comparison of knowledge scores of medical students in problem-based learning and traditional curriculum on public health topics

      1 , 2 , , 2 , 3 , 3
      BMC Medical Education
      BioMed Central

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          The purpose of the study was to compare the knowledge scores of medical students in Problem-based Learning and traditional curriculum on public health topics.


          We planned a cross-sectional study including the fifth and sixth year medical students of Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey. The fifth year students (PBL group, n = 56) were the pioneers educated with PBL curriculum since the 1997–1998 academic year. The sixth year students (traditional education group, n = 78) were the last students educated with traditional education methods. We prepared 25 multiple-choice questions in order to assess knowledge scores of students on selected subjects of Public Health. Our data were collected in year 2002.


          Mean test scores achieved in PBL and traditional groups were 65.0 and 60.5 respectively. PBL students were significantly more successful in the knowledge test (p = 0.01). The knowledge scores of two topics were statistically higher among PBL students. These topics were health management and chronic diseases.


          We found that mean total evaluation score in the PBL group was 4.5 points higher than in the traditional group in our study. Focusing only on the knowledge scores of students is the main limitation of our study. Upon the graduation of the first PBL students in the 2002–2003 academic year, we are planning additional studies regarding the other functions of a physician such as skill, behaviour and attitude.

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          Problem-based learning: a review of literature on its outcomes and implementation issues.

          The effects of problem-based learning (PBL) were examined by conducting a meta-analysis-type review of the English-language international literature from 1972 to 1992. Compared with conventional instruction, PBL, as suggested by the findings, is more nurturing and enjoyable; PBL graduates perform as well, and sometimes better, on clinical examinations and faculty evaluations; and they are more likely to enter family medicine. Further, faculty tend to enjoy teaching using PBL. However, PBL students in a few instances scored lower on basic sciences examinations and viewed themselves as less well prepared in the basic sciences than were their conventionally trained counterparts. PBL graduates tended to engage in backward reasoning rather than the forward reasoning experts engage in, and there appeared to be gaps in their cognitive knowledge base that could affect practice outcomes. The costs of PBL may slow its implementation in schools with class sizes larger than 100. While weaknesses in the criteria used to assess the outcomes of PBL and general weaknesses in study design limit the confidence one can give conclusions drawn from the literature, the authors recommend that caution be exercised in making comprehensive, curriculum-wide conversions to PBL until more is learned about (1) the extent to which faculty should direct students throughout medical training, (2) PBL methods that are less costly, (3) cognitive-processing weaknesses shown by PBL students, and (4) the apparent high resource utilization by PBL graduates.
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            Undergraduate medical education: comparison of problem-based learning and conventional teaching.

            To review the literature on studies comparing all aspects of problem-based learning with the conventional mode of teaching. Medline literature search (1980 through 1999) and the references cited in retrieved articles. Studies and meta-analyses that compared the newer problem-based learning curriculum and the conventional lecture-based mode of teaching undergraduate medical students. Areas of comparison included the academic process; programme evaluation; academic achievement; graduates' performance, specialty choices, and practice characteristics; and the attitude of students and teachers towards the programmes. Data were extracted independently by multiple authors. Students of the problem-based learning curriculum found learning to be "more stimulating and more humane" and "engaging, difficult, and useful", whereas students of the conventional curriculum found learning to be "non-relevant, passive, and boring". Students who used the problem-based learning method showed better interpersonal skills and psychosocial knowledge, as well as a better attitude towards patients. Students using the conventional model, however, performed better in basic science examinations. Teachers tended to enjoy teaching the newer curriculum. Although the two curricula encourage different ways of learning, there is no convincing evidence of improved learning using the problem-based learning curriculum. A combination of both the conventional and newer curricula may provide the most effective training for undergraduate medical students.
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              Problem-based learning versus lecture-based learning in a course of basic pharmacology: a controlled, randomized study.

              Since its first implementation in a medical programme at McMaster University, Canada, problem-based learning (PBL) has become a well-established means of teaching and learning medicine. Extensive research has been conducted and a number of strengths of the method are well supported. Several items, however, remain unclear although there is evidence that no relevant difference exists in factual knowledge among students from PBL and traditional curricula, a controlled, randomized study has not been conducted to address this issue. The Medical Faculty of the University of Cologne is in the process of integrating elements of PBL into its curriculum. In the spring term of 1997, after seven semesters of experience with PBL supplementing the traditional course of basic pharmacology, we did for the first time use PBL instead of the lecture-based course (LBL) and conducted a controlled prospective study to determine the effects of this intervention. One-hundred and twenty-three students were randomly assigned to either PBL (n = 63), with tutorial groups of up to nine students, or to the traditional, lecture-based course (n = 60). Analysis of the results of both groups in the examination of basic pharmacology, consisting of multiple-choice and short-essay questions, revealed similar scores with a tendency favouring PBL students in the category of short-essay questions. Hence, it seems clear that PBL does not imply a disadvantage in terms of factual knowledge. Students considered PBL to be an effective learning method and favoured it over the lecture format. Furthermore, students reported positive effects of PBL in terms of use of additional learning resources, interdisciplinarity, team work and learning fun.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central (London )
                10 February 2005
                : 5
                : 7
                [1 ]Akdeniz University School of Medicine Department of Medical Education, Antalya Turkey
                [2 ]Dokuz Eylul University School of Medicine Department of Medical Education, Izmir Turkey
                [3 ]Dokuz Eylul University School of Medicine Department of Public Health, Izmir Turkey
                Copyright © 2005 Gurpinar et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 10 November 2004
                : 10 February 2005
                Research Article



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