Problem based versus traditional teaching, a reflection

I often try to incorporate problem based learning into all my teaching activities, not just a scenario. At least this is an intention. I believe in it as a pedagogical philosophy and it inspires me as a teacher to encourage my students that they are fully capable in discovering and learning if they only get the right tools from me. I even try my best to change the way I hold a lecture. For me these are not separate entities. It just requires determination, rhetoric’s and tools. Read an article that compares problem-based learning with lecture-based learning in the education of medical students (Khoshnevisasl, et al, 2014). The study concluded that there were no significant differences in learning outcomes in the two different study groups. The median score of the exam was higher in the intervention group (PBL) compare to the control group for both topics. However, the difference was not statistically significant. Students preferred problem-based learning over lecture-based learning because of motivation boost, a higher quality of education, knowledge retention, class attractiveness, and practical use.

The results vary as (McParland M, 2004) showed that the PBL curriculum resulted in significantly better examination performance than did the traditional teaching curriculum. Students were significantly more successful in the examinations if they had received the PBL curriculum, were female, and used strategic learning.

Some intervention studies show that the group that received problem-based was less satisfied with the course, but despite that both programs, however, were equally effective in improving knowledge levels (Smits PB, 2003). Reading these studies makes me even more confused but determines me to stick to what I believe in. To try my best to incorporate my philosophy of teaching into every activity that I undertake. Meaning that just because I’m in a group setting working with PBL does not make me less traditional as a teacher. That the student still needs me to stimulate elaboration of information and ideas, direct the learning process, stimulate integration of knowledge and stimulate student interaction and individual accountability (de Grave, Dolmans & van der Vleuten 1999). I still can do this in some forms or shapes during a lecture but of course it’s more of a challenge. I believe that we as teachers can be and should be a role model for our students that they need to find inspiration from us and also motivation. To want to know more, to want to listen during a lecture and to understand that they are there to get the preparations and skills that they need in order to be a nurse. Because at the end of the day that is what all this is for. To be able to “produce” competent nurses that with the help of their theoretical and practical knowledge are able to care for a patient no matter in what context. For that I would like to believe that problem based learning is a great contribution.


McParland M, Noble LM, Livingston G. The effectiveness of problem-based learning compared to traditional teaching in undergraduate psychiatry. Medical Education. 2004; 38(8):859–67.

Smits PB, de Buisonje CD, Verbeek JH, van Dijk FJ, Metz JC, ten Cate OJ. Problem-based learning versus lecture-based learning in postgraduate medical education. Scandinavian Journal of Work Environ Health.2003;29(4):280–7.

Khoshnevisasl P., Sadeghzadeh M.,  Mazloomzadeh S., Feshareki R., Ahmadiafshar A. Comparison of Problem-based Learning With Lecture-based Learning. Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal. 2014 May; 16(5): e5186.

De Grave WS, Dolmans DH, van der Vleuten CP. Profiles of effective tutors in problem-based learning: scaffolding student learning. Medical Education. 1999 Dec;33(12):901-6.



Networking in Finland

Problem based learning network meeting in Helsinki

Last week me and some colleagues flew out to Finland for some days of networking with colleagues of the Problem based network. The day started with a student perspective regarding factors that make a good scenario or trigger. The students had identified some key aspects such as: 1. Evoking feelings/reaction 2. Up to date 3. Evoking thoughts 4. Visuals such as video and audio 5. Having a functioning work group as a base for learning. They showed us some examples of good scenarios that according to them had played out well in their previous groups. Among these were some YouTube clips. They also listed factors that prohibit a scenario being: 1. containing too much information 2. To limiting 3. To wide/abstract.

Then we discussed a factor that I have reflecting a lot upon regarding competences necessary for the profession. How much do we discuss qualitative factors crucial for their upcoming profession? Those being for example: critical thinking, taking initiative, being creative, problem solving etc. Do we need to have these skills from start or can we improve them based on what type of education we provide? Another interesting issue is that regarding the development and progress of PBL throughout an education. How do we deepen students skills regarding problem based learning depending on the complexity of their tasks/examinations etc.

The participants were divided into groups trying out some topics using a problem based learning model. Something I always have pushed on is the pedagogical value of evaluating groups and letting the evaluation take time and also the impact that it can have on the group process. To be continued….

Ending of summer, beginning of fall


Webinar 1   2016-09-28


To join the community for the first time. This was an intense first webinar with a lot of different chats simultaneously going on and be sitting being partly frustrated because of sound cuts and also not being able to get the headset to cooperate with me. Today’s first lesson is if you would like to participate an online course be sure to get your technical devices going before you start. This will facilitate your motivation and level of activity in the course. This first blog is mostly experimental to be able to visualize how the layout of my word press blog actually looks when posting a blog. Getting to play with the settings and tools available and summarizing some of the take home messages of the first webinar. My take home message was mainly:

  1. Get involved straight away in the small PBL groups, so I instantly went in there and posted a presentation of my self for the group to read .
  2. Started a wordpress blogg, just deciding on a design was challenging but I will adjust this later.
  3. Note to self to start-up a twitter account if I want to join the tweet chats, that is on my to do list for today.
  4. I arranged all my important websites on my computer bookmarks for easy asses throughout the course. The main community ONL162, My University Google+ account, my PBL group (4), word press and upcoming twitter.
  5. I listened to 2 different video blogs by Alastair Creelman regarding participating in a Hangout.


I think that is enough for today, over and out / PM