Acquiring professional skills through a problem-based learning course in a subject-based curriculum

A Hunt, G Dwyer, Joy Higgs, R Adams

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    Background: Professional skills,including team-work, self-directed learning and accountability are applicable to a range of clinical scenarios and contexts. Theoretically, these skills can be acquired by a course of learning within a problem-based learning (PBL)paradigm. The aim of the study was to evaluate student perceptions of learning achievement and student acceptance of aPBL unit of study (course) in paediatric physiotherapy that was embedded within an established subject-based physiotherapy curriculum.Method: The study had two phases and involved two student cohorts, with some revisions to the second cohort's learning program and the questionnaire based on findings from the first cohort investigation. In Phase 1 (cohort 1), 154(82 per cent) of the students completed questionnaires evaluating the learning program. Focus groups were conducted ten months later with 18 students. In Phase 2 (cohort 2), 118 (62 percent)of the students completed a revised questionnaire. For Phase 1, mean rating agreement for meeting all learning outcomes was between 84 per cent and 97 per cent. Most suggestions from the questionnaires and focus groups concerned unit structure and process.Results: For Phase 2, mean rating agreement for meeting all learning objectives was between 88 per cent and 96 per cent. Students' perceptions that they had attained pre-determined learning outcomes were consistent with their final marks and performance in the final oral examination.Conclusion: Students can achieve learning outcomes from an embedded PBL unit of study and derive benefits such as confidence in applying knowledge to novel situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-33
    Number of pages19
    JournalFocus on Health Professional Education: A multi-disciplinary journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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