Opinions differ as to whether problem-based learning (PBL) is an effective form of education. Some argue that, contrary to expectation, PBL has failed to promote in students higher levels of knowledge. Others maintain that PBL is a form of minimally guided instruction and therefore less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a stronger emphasis on guidance of the student learning process. This chapter reviews the results of a large number of studies, comparing the performance of medical students and graduates of Maastricht medical school to that of medical students and graduates trained in conventional medical programmes in the same country. The results suggest that students and graduates of the PBL curriculum perform better (1) on tests of diagnostic reasoning, and (2) in the area of interpersonal and (3) medical professional competencies. In addition, (4) students in the problem-based school consistently rate the quality of their education more highly than do students in conventional schools. The same applies to national bodies of experts visiting the schools. Furthermore, the problem-based curriculum (5) turned out to be more efficient and effective, as witnessed by lower dropout and less delay. No differences were found with respect to (6) acquired medical knowledge.

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doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583447.003.0024, hdl.handle.net/1765/84122
Department of Psychology

Schmidt, H. (2010). A review of the evidence: Effects of problem-based learning on students and graduates of Maastricht medical school. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583447.003.0024