Education is an interesting journey in which you meet new people and spend time grasping new information. We learn as long as we live and it was order from god to keep reading and learning through all our phases of life. My education experience has been fulfilled with different methods of learning. During my school education, the most common way was the conventional method which based on lecture based learning and conventional written exam which is based mainly in recalling the knowledge that has been taught. Later on, during my college education and post graduate learning, I’ve been introduced to different method which was based on more research and self-learning techniques. The clinical part mainly based on illustration and interaction between class mates and the supervisor. Nowadays I can look back and compare between the both methods.
Conventional method of instruction and assessment
It’s the traditional approach of teaching a lesson in front of a classroom. The teachers in school used to deliver the information passively to the students with minimum interaction between him and the class. This method is defined as (lecture-based learning) or (Teacher-centered instruction) method depends on the students attempt to memorize the content instead of understanding the concepts and using them. Therefore, no effort has been performed from students toward thinking and innovation to diagnose and meet the existing requirements (1).
One of the most drawback of traditional method is that It is very difficult for a student to sit for a long time and listen to a teacher talking on about a topic. It is an unstimulating way of teaching. From my experience I can tell that method lacks student’s attention during the class and as I can recall it was boring leading some students felt asleep. Also, lecture-based method mainly relays on teacher’s philosophy of education and his role of teaching. It’s highly counts on teacher style to accomplish a certain objective and principle, so the teacher takes full responsibility for making a decision about what, when and how the fact should be learned, he is in full control. In some occasions, when the teacher is well trained he can grasp student’s attention by asking few questions, making eye contact, or use different voice tone. the experience of teacher is very important because the student has little knowledge so that one-way communication strategies are employed. On the other hand, the conventional curriculum medical field based on separation the basic science from clinical segments and implies logical arrangement of steps and more procedural (1). From learner aspect, the students are presumed to be passive and inactive, this method doesn’t encourage critical thinking skills or dynamic interaction in the class room (1,2). It’s highly recommended in large size number of students and in topics of illustration, principles and directions of procedure.
· The assessment was not really different, it merely relays on memorizing the information and recall it written through paper and pencils test. The students require to demonstrate the knowledge by selecting the right answer from a set of question and they are not encouraged to understand the methods, techniques and skills required to find answers. The aim of the assessment is to evaluate the student’s ability to acquire the knowledge, assign a grade for them to rank and compare between them (1). On the other hand, the test does not reflect the students’ true progress of what they can do with the knowledge they acquired, or the self-directed learning skills and literature analysis (1,3). It doesn’t evaluate the students thinking skills, or their cognition ability added it lacks the ability to motivate student’s problem solving or critical thinking (1,3). In fact, lecture base learning and assessment has short term retention post exam and memorizing the facts is not reflecting the actual student outcome and evaluation. Personally, I hardly can remember any of the information I learned in the basic science subject (Physiology, anatomy, biochemistry) as I didn’t learn it’s medical application or what is important to my career.
The college and postgraduate experience
Later on, when I Joined the Dental school and postgraduate program in dentistry I found a difference in the method of delivering the knowledge which mainly was based on how to achieve the learning objective through clinical scenario, class interaction and tremendous self-learning tasks. It mainly focused on how students are learning rather than how educators are teaching. This method has been defined later as Problem based learning, it starts by presenting the scenario, then students work to identify the problem, think critically and generate ideas (2). PBL was introduced into a medical curriculum in which small-group study of clinical problems with self-directed learning and self-assessment techniques were implemented (4). In this method, learners focused on specific problem and used their previously gained knowledge in order to think rationally about solving that problem in which tutors played an important role in facilitating student group discussions, evaluate and monitor group members’ contribution and progress in solving the problem (5). However, PBL helps to enhance the competencies and the skills of the students that it will help them implement these skills in their careers, through modifying and scalping their clinical skills and analytical sense.
In addition, previous method motivates students to participate in active intellectual processes at higher cognitive levels which ultimately would improve student learning and knowledge retention (5). The PBL problem designed to be focused on simple problem first, then progressively approach more complex problems (5). On contrast to lecture-based learning, students are actively involved in their learning and are motivated to explore information actively to synthesize and construct new knowledge rather than passive transmission of knowledge from educator to students (5). The role of tauter in the PBL would not be the leader but it will be the “facilitator” where the students will play the role of the leader
Barrows in 1986, establish four methods of PBL, which included Knowledge and clinical context structure, clinical reasoning or clinical problem solving, self-directed learning skills, and intrinsic motivation (6).
· The assessment in this method mainly counts to measures students’ ability to apply knowledge of the content in real life situations; ability to use/apply what they have learned in meaningful ways (1). Also, tests and strengthens the students’ ability to reason, analyze, synthesize, and apply knowledge acquired, it provides multiple avenues for students to demonstrate best what they have learned and assess student’s clinical skills and provisional competency. It provides simulation process such as work assessment through practical examination and case study problem solving cases to groups to ensure full understanding and comprehension of the material. For example, objective structure clinical exam “OSCE” assess the clinical skills and professional competency were assessed with the 7-10 minutes OSCE stations. The clinical competency level of the OSCE stations conformed to the course objectives and covered a variety of clinical problems, each station was followed by a couplet, pen-and-pencil station in which students were required to answer questions concerning diagnosis/management of the clinical problem, assessed in the previous station.
Many studies have been conducted to compare both methods of teaching and assessment. Zahid et.at., 2016 (1) , compared compare performance of the lecture-based curriculum with the PBL medical student groups. He confirmed that the PBL student’s performance was superior than the theoretical knowledge base test, which reflects the higher cognitive level for the PBL students than the old curriculum students. This finding is in agreement to Rich et.at., 2005 (7) study which confirms the superior performance in OSCE station for the PBL group over the traditional method group.
Comparing the students attitude and behavior, the PBL students proved increase evidence of being self-directed and enthusiastic learners, as the number of studying materials borrowed from the library almost two times more than the traditional students did (5). This indicates the PBL students are enthusiastic to learn with desire to explore and acquire more knowledge in self-directed approach. Khoshnevisasl group, 2014 (2), although they found no significant difference in in students’ scores between control and intervention groups for both topics (syncope and speech delay) but still the minimum score in the control group was lower. On the other hand, the PBL students showed higher satisfaction, they preferred problem-based learning over lecture-based learning because of motivation boost, a higher quality of education, knowledge retention, class attractiveness, and practical use.
Finally, from my experience during my path of education I can say attending lectures and seminars are very useful when the presenter could pay my attention by asking questions, initiate group interaction and deliver a new knowledge. On the other hand, as a dentist I enjoyed workshop and hands on courses as well as problem solving tasks which motivate my critical thinking and research desire. Bothe methods are efficient in teaching if the used in the right way and monitored by well-trained educator.
1- Muhammad A. Zahid1, Ramani Varghese1, Ahmed M. Mohammed2, Adel K. Ayed3. Comparison of the problem based learning-driven with the traditional didactic-lecture-based curricula. International Journal of Medical Education. 2016;7:181-187.
2- Khoshnevisasl P, Sadeghzadeh M, Mazloomzadeh S, Hashemi Feshareki R, Ahmadi afshar A. Comparison of Problem-based Learning With Lecture-based Learning. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 May;16(5):e5186. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.5186. Epub 2014 May 5.PMID:
3- Wood DF. ABC of learning and teaching in medicine Problem based learning. BMJ. 2003;326(7384):328.PMC free article PubMed
4- Neville A, Norman J, Geoff R. PBL in the undergraduate MD program at McMaster University: Three iterations in three decades. Acad Med. 2007;82:370–374.
5- Reza Karimi, Interface between problem-based learning and a learner-centered paradigm, Adv Med Educ Pract. 2011; 2: 117–125. Published online 2011 May 13. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S12794.
6- Barrows HS. A taxonomy of problem-based learning methods. Med Educ. 1986;20:481–486. PubMed
7- Rich SK1, Keim RG, Shuler CF., Problem-Based Learning Versus a Traditional Educational Methodology: A Comparison of Preclinical and Clinical Periodontics Performance, Dent Educ. 2005 Jun;69(6):649-62.