Answer to "What skills are developed during PBL?"

As alluded to earlier, the original purpose of PBL was to mirror the process of clinical practice when a new doctor encounters a patient or a challenging scenario. Critical thinking, hypothetico-deductive reasoning and problem-solving are the skills involved in working through the ‘problems’. Since PBL takes place in the context of small group in which students work collaboratively, team work skills are also developed. Most importantly, these interpersonal skills of communicating with a range of individuals are important in clinical practice.


Learners take on different roles in the PBL group. There is always a Chair and a Scribe. Some also describe the need for a Time-keeper. As team work (i.e. collaboration, respect, etc.) should be an outcome of PBL, it might be useful to assign several rotating roles each week to reinforce the need to attend and to be part of a team. Other roles could include Recorder, Learning Issue Tracker and Reflector. In undertaking each of these roles, a range of skills are developed, mapping, summarising, etc. In terms of handling information, it might be useful to appoint two Resource persons who are responsible for finding appropriate online resources should the group require clarification during the tutorial. With two individuals, the validity of the information can be corroborated.



KOH, G.C., KHOO, H.E., WONG, M.E., and KOH, D. (2008). The effects of problem-based learning during medical school on physician competency: A systematic review. (Can Med Assoc J. 178(1):34-41.

MORO, C., & MCLEAN, M. (2017). Supporting students’ transition to university and problem-based learning. (Med Sci Educ. 27:353-361).

STROBEL, J., and VAN BARNEVELD, A. (2009). When is PBL more effective? A meta-analysis of meta-analyses comparing PBL to conventional classrooms. (Interdisc J PBL. 3(1):44-58).