PBL: Problem-based Learning

What is PBL?

PBL classroom instruction to students

Problem-based learning (PBL) uses small-group discussions of clinical cases as the stimulus for learning. It is a process that values how students can direct their own learning, fostering the development of problem-solving and life-long learning skills.

To be successful in a PBL environment, students must develop team-learning skills and assume a very active role in their own learning. Educational research has consistently demonstrated that students from PBL programs retain the material they learn longer, perform well in clinical settings, and tend to enjoy their medical school experience more than their counterparts in more traditional educational programs .

How PBL Works

The tutorial group is the heart of the problem-based learning process. A group consists of five to six students and a faculty member who serves as the PBL group facilitator (“PBL tutor”). The group meets twice a week, each tutorial usually lasting about three hours. This photograph show one PBL session in progress.

JABSOM has earned a well-deserved reputation for its commitment and expertise in utilizing problem-based learning in medical student education. Medical schools from the US, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan have requested that JABSOM help them develop their own PBL curricula, and JABSOM has also provided PBL training workshops for pre-college public school teachers wishing to introduce this methodology into their classrooms.

Problem-based learning has become a part of the educational culture at JABSOM. JABSOM believes that this learning method can best prepare its graduates for the challenges of a career in medicine. Click here to learn more about JABSOM’s PBL demonstrations.

What students like about PBL

JABSOM students and graduates express tremendous satisfaction with their PBL experience. Here are some student reviews:

“I feel my education at JABSOM taught me how to be a self-sufficient learner and taught me how to organize my thoughts when seeing a patient…” wrote a 2015 JABSOM graduate.

“I thought that PBL prepared me well to be self-directed & a lifetime learner,” wrote a 2015 JABSOM graduate.

“The strongest part of the JABSOM educational experience is the ability I now have for self-directed learning and the PBL approach which is similar to how we approach real patients,” wrote a 2014 JABSOM graduate.

“I couldn’t have asked for better training. The PBL curriculum has been effective in breadth and depth of knowledge needed as an intern while teaching skills about self-directed learning and team learning. It was a smooth transition into intern year and I felt as prepared as I could be,” wrote a 2013 JABSOM graduate.

“PBL was a great way to prepare for clinical evaluation of patients. It provided a very strong foundation,” wrote a 2013 JABSOM graduate.

“PBL is the best way to learn/access information relevant to the constantly changing world of medicine,” wrote a 2009 JABSOM graduate 6 years after graduation.

“I think PBL is the best way to learn medicine. JABSOM is above the standard for community involvement and that is very important for future physicians,” wrote a 2008 graduate 6 years after graduation.

“PBL is a foundation upon which you develop skills that are life long for medicine and personal life,” wrote one 1997 JABSOM graduate.

“The PBL system prepares us to see the patient as a whole person (especially psychosocial aspect, cultural differences), said a 2002 JABSOM graduate.

“I loved my JABSOM experience from Day 1. Curriculum has been flexible and effective. PBL concepts carried remarkably well into the clerkships. I feel well-prepared for residency and future career,” said a JABSOM 2001 graduate.

“From the first day, we were confronted with a clinical problem…I think that was one of the most valuable experiences of PBL, i.e., using a case to draw all the relevant issues to the table and tackling each one. If I sit down and reflection how a 15-minute appointment with a patient went, I can still see the PBL process at work,” said a 1997 JABSOM graduate.