March 15, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

What do you need in a problem-based learning room

Video >>
Kate: “We’re sitting in one of the Derby PBL rooms now – what are the special features about this kind of workspace?”

Jonathan Ball: “I think the key elements are the fact that it’s very Arthurian, so there’s a round table and as a facilitator you’re certainly one of the group, rather than kind of leading it, and then you’ll also notice that there are on-line access so that they can get information that is relevant for their case at their fingertips as well as textbooks.

“And then something that’s always busy are the whiteboards, so that they will go through each case adding to the whiteboards as they go so they will form learning topics which are the issues that they go away and learn over the weekend or over the week and then bring back information for the session. So all of those elements are probably key – and of course the kettle!”

Student: “I think a board has helped enormously in terms of putting information in diagrams, and diagrams explain a lot more than words ever can. We also tend to use the boards a lot outside the PBL sessions for making sure the explanation is clear.”

PBL Session

Shirley (student):
So you need iron, globin, vitamin B12 and the C code to get these red blood cells to differentiate and spread out.  So they then merrily go round in the blood stream for about 120 days, and then that’s them knackered and it is time for them to go to the graveyard.  So they carry on to get broken down in the bone, the liver or the spleen.
David (student): “I think that’s where the computer comes in, you know, it’s a very good website, it’s got a lot of information about all of the lectures, the learning topics, and a kind of structure really, on the website. We all look at it on our own so we all have some kind of idea of what we need to get through. So this session can be really spontaneous and open, but that’s because we all know vaguely or roughly what we need to get…so how we learn is up to us.
Students: “She has a high AST ALT ratio, so this is cirrhosis of the liver, her ALT…”
“Everything is elevated.”
“It’s not that high.”
“Yeah, but the ratio…”
“Which way do we do the ratio?”
“If AST is more then ALT then it seems she is an alcoholic or…yes, cirrhosis.”

Jonathan Ball (School of Molecular Medical Sciences),
Imran Hussain (Graduate Entry Medicine & Health),
Shirley Lyle (Graduate Entry Medicine & Health).

An overview of the setting, with extracts from the PBL sessions that are the focus of pre-clinical education on the Graduate Entry Medicine & Health course. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection. Produced March 2008.

Posted in Problem based learning