Short-term Effects of Problem-based Learning Curriculum on Students' Self-directed Skills Development

Yalcin, Bektas Murat; Karahan, Tevfik Fikret; Karadenizli, Demet; Sahin, Erkan Melih
June 2006
Croatian Medical Journal;2006, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p491
Academic Journal
Aim To investigate short-term effects of problem-based learning on students' scientific thinking, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills. Methods The study was conducted in two medical schools, Ondokuz Mayıs University in Samsun and Trakya University in Edirne, Turkey. The two schools used different instructional approaches in educational methods: Ondokuz Mayıs University followed a problem-based learning curriculum and Trakya University a traditional didactic curriculum. Three groups of students were included as follows: (a) 83 first-year from Ondokuz Mayıs University, who passed an English language proficiency exam; (b) 146 students who failed English language proficiency exam and had to spend a year attending preparatory English language classes before starting their first year at Ondokuz Mayıs University (first control group); and (c) 124 students first-year students from Trakya University (second control group). All participants completed the Problem Solving Inventory, Scientific Thinking Skills Questionnaire, and Conflict Resolution Scale at the beginning of the 2003/2004 academic year. The tests were re-administered to same students at the end of the academic year, ie, 10 months later. Results Analysis of covariance revealed no differences in pre-test scores among the problem-based learning, first, and second control groups in their scientific thinking (9.0 ± 71.2, 8.9 ± 3.2, and 8.7 ± 1.3, respectively; P = 0.124), problem solving (132.2 ± 15.4, 131.2 ± 16.2, and 132.1 ± 17.4, respectively; P = 0.454), and conflict resolution skills (112.3 ± 14.6, 109.7 ± 12.8, and 110.2 ± 11.4, respectively; P = 0.07). The study group in comparison with first and second control group had significantly better post-test results in scientific thinking (13.9 ± 3.5, 9.5 ± 2.2, and 9.1 ± 2.7, respectively), problem solving (125.5 ± 12.6, 130.1 ± 11.2, and 131.1 ± 15.4, respectively), and conflict resolution skills (125.4 ± 12.7, 110.9 ± 23.7, and 111.6 ± 23.6, respectively) (P<0.001 for all). The skills of the two control groups did not improve in this time period and their post-test scores were not significantly different. Conclusion Problem-based learning curricula may positively affect some of the self-directed skills, such as scientific thinking, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills of students, even in a short period of time.


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