The same year as the opening of the Woodstock music festival, a small medical school in Hamilton, Ontario, launched a daring new medical education programme in which lectures were replaced by small-group, interdisciplinary problem-based tutorials. Problem-based learning, as it became known, took the world of higher education by storm, such that today over 500 institutions in the World claim to use this method in almost every field of study, from engineering to liberal arts. Through the in-depth historical analysis of archive materials, oral history interviews and contemporary publications, this thesis proposes a rigorous account of the intellectual history of PBL from its birth place at McMaster University, to its evolution in Maastricht University, closing on a comparison with the Danish problem-oriented, project-based model of higher education. The author delivers a narrative that stands at the cross-roads between history, philosophy of education and cognitive psychology. “Revolutions and Re-iterations” retraces not only the key historical events that shaped PBL but also the sources of inspiration for many of PBL’s key features and the central theoretical debates that defined the practice of PBL since the 1970s.

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H.G. Schmidt (Henk) , M.A. Frens (Maarten)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Servant, V.F.C. (2016, November 18). Revolutions & re-iterations. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from