First PBLJune 14, 2008
Image taken from Despair, Inc.
Last Friday, we had our first Problem Based Learning (PBL) experience.
It was different from the traditional learning style that I was used to. Gone were the teachers speaking to a class full of inattentive students. Instead, we were 7 students in a small room doing most of the talking while the doctors who acted as our tutors merely goaded us to discuss more.
First we students roleplayed as doctors and a doctor roleplayed as the foster father of a 15-year-old girl who hasn’t menstruated yet, but who was apparently impregnated by her 14-year-old boyfriend. The foster father cited the girl’s vomiting every morning as proof of her pregnancy. He wanted to have the supposed pregnancy aborted. We, the doctors, asked questions to gain as much information as we could for our analysis.
Personally, I think our case involves a patient with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. The “girl” hasn’t menstruated, yet she suddenly is supposed to become “pregnant” by virtue of her morning sickness. “She” might also look like the perfect girl, but it could be that chromosomally “she” is male. “Her” male genitalia just didn’t develop because “she” does not respond to androgens, or male hormones. So “she” gets to have female externally genitalia, but internally, she has balls that just didn’t develop and descend.
Nevertheless, that is only my opinion. It may not be the correct one, or even be the correct one. The PBL style, however, emphasizes the learning process instead of the solution.
From that roleplay session, we formed Learning Issues (LI) that we had to research about. Among our LI were Embryology, Gametogenesis, Male and Female Sexual Anatomy and Physiology, as well as ethical and legal issues regarding Abortion. We have to study these topics individually, and then discuss them in another PBL session. This learning style supposedly has a better edge than the traditional learning style where the teacher does most of the talking.
I am thankful that I was assigned to belong to my group. Our discussion moved smoothly, and we didn’t have extreme personalities as members. Other groups had very domineering members who eclipsed their more silent members, or so I heard. Other groups had very silent members, and the tutor had to coax them to talk.
Yet that was only our first day of PBL. I am sure that everyone would improve in the coming days as we get the hang of this new learning experience.
PS Despite the apparent advantages of the PBL, it also has its downsides. The picture above is a reminder on what could possibly go wrong with this style..