When is PBL More Efective?
volume 3, no. 1 (Spring 2009)
& Mitchell, 1993; Vernon & Blake, 1993; Kalaian, Mullan, & Kasim, 1999; Dochy, Segers, Vanden Bossche, & Gijbels, 2003; Newman, 2003; Gijbels, Dochy, Van den Bossche, & Segers,2005). Although dening PBL similarly, these studies were not consistent in their nd-ings, particularly because o diferences in dening efectiveness o learning, and howefectiveness was measured.
The purpose o this study was to synthesize the diferent meta-analyses, compare andcontrast diferent conceptualizations o learning and how it was measured, and identiycommon and generalizable ndings across the meta-analyses with regard to the efec-tiveness o PBL.Our research questions were:1. How do diferences in (a) the denition o learning and (b) the measurement o learning contribute to the inconclusiveness o the diferent meta-analyses with regard tothe efectiveness o PBL?2. Taking the diferences into consideration, what generalizable value statementsabout the efectiveness o PBL can be made and are supported by the majority o meta-analyses?
What is Problem-based Learning?
PBL in its current orm originated as a response to low enrollments and general dissatis-action with medical education (Barrows, 1996). Since its origin, PBL has been used in avariety o disciplines and educational levels (see Savery  or a history; see Savery &Dufy  or an introduction; see Hung, Jonassen & Liu  or a summary o theresearch).As Barrows (1996) noted, PBL has taken on a myriad o denitions, pushed in part byinstitutions wanting to rene their particular approach. Maudlsey (1999) cautioned us notto assume that those making use o the term,
were all reerring tothe same concept, especially since the use o problems as a teaching strategy does notnecessarily constitute a PBL-oriented instructional methodology.One o Barrows’ most recent denitions (2002) identied the ollowing key compo-nents o PBL:Ill-structured problems are presented as unresolved so that students will generate•not only multiple thoughts about the cause o the problem, but multiple thoughtson how to solve it.A student-centered approach in which students determine what they need to learn.•It is up to the learners to derive the key issues o the problems they ace, denetheir knowledge gaps, and pursue and acquire the missing knowledge.