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Farrell TA, Albanese MA, Pomrehn PR. Problem-Based Learning in Ophthalmology: A Pilot Program for Curricular Renewal. Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(9):1223–1226. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archopht.117.9.1223
To gain experience with problem-based learning as a demonstration project in a medical school's curriculum renewal effort and determine if using a single facilitator to circulate among the small groups would yield positive results.
We developed 16 cases around 4 ophthalmic problems that were used in 3-hour small-group sessions during the Introduction to Clinical Medicine semester of the second-year curriculum. A single faculty member facilitated the small groups of 4 students each that were created by self-division at each of 5 sessions.
A state-supported large Midwestern medical school.
All students (N=75) enrolled in the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course prior to their standard introductory ophthalmology lectures.
Main Outcome Measures
A 5-item pretest, related to each of that day's clinical problems, was administered at the beginning and again at the end of the session as a posttest. A satisfaction questionnaire with Likert-type questions was also completed by the students at the close of the session.
Knowledge scores showed statistically significant gains with a mean of 1.7 points. Student satisfaction was very positive—85% stated that they learned more than they would have in the traditional format and 93% agreed that they enjoyed the problem-based learning format.
A single facilitator successfully managed small groups of students in a modified problem-based learning format that produced significant knowledge gains and high student satisfaction. This positive experience was one of the factors that led to adoption of problem-based learning into the curriculum.
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