Overcoming problems in problem-based learning: a trial of strategies in an undergraduate unit
AbstractProfessionally oriented tertiary-level courses such as allied health courses in Australia are under pressure from both their professions and the federal government to provide educational outcomes that prepare graduates for the workplace. This has resulted in a number of allied courses adopting problem-based learning (PBL), a teaching approach in which students can gain knowledge through solving real-life work-based problems. Problems with the approach, however, have been reported in the tertiary classroom setting including students inadequately preparing for class work, not working effectively in groups, and not discussing problems to an appropriate depth. In addition, both students and staff have expressed concerns about its time-consuming nature. This paper reports on a range of strategies trialled in a tertiary classroom setting to overcome many of these commonly reported problems. The trial found that the combination of strategies used resulted in high rates of student preparation and participation in group discussion. It also found that these strategies resulted in students investing time that was within university guidelines and expectations thus providing a set of useful solutions for PBL practitioners and their students.