Problem-based learning and the medical school: another case of the emperor’s new clothes?
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For almost four decades, problem-based learning (PBL) has been the stated cornerstone of learning in many medical schools. Proponents of PBL cite the open nature of the learning experience where students are free to study in depth, unencumbered by the burdens of broad courses based on the memorization of facts; detractors, on the other hand, cite the lack of breadth and factual knowledge required for professional qualification. Both points of view have merit. Professional schools have a different set of needs and requirements, and it is these that drive the curriculum and learning philosophies. The constraints of the professional school are so different from those of the purely academic environment that PBL, while admirably suited to the latter, is just problem solving in the former.
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