The Purpose of this study was to examine effects of group discussion of a medical problem on the comprehension of a subsequent problem-relevant text by first year medical students. Forty-eight first-year medical students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: The experimental group discussed a problem of blood pressure regulation, where the control group discussed a problem of vision. Subsequently, all students studied a text on the physiology of blood pressure regulation. Finally, a free recall test was administered. Numbers of propositions accurately recalled were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Students who discussed the blood pressure regulation problem recalled 25% more from the text than those who discussed the control problem. This difference was statistically significant. The present study represented the first truly randomized trial in the ecologically valid context of a medical curriculum. It demonstrated the positive effects of problem-based tutorial group discussion on the comprehension of text. It confirmed earlier findings from laboratory studies that problem-based learning, in addition to positive emotional and motivational long-term effects well-documented in the literature, also has positive effects on learning.

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Instructional Science: an international journal of learning and cognition
Department of Psychology

de Grave, W.S, Schmidt, H.G, & Boshuizen, H.P.A. (2001). Effects of problem-based discussion on studying a subsequent text: A randomized trial among first year medical students. Instructional Science: an international journal of learning and cognition, 29(1), 33–44. doi:1026571615672