• Munazza Asad Department of Physiology, Al Nafees Medical College Isra University, Islamabad
  • Khadija Iqbal Department of Anatomy, Al Nafees Medical College Isra University, Islamabad
  • Mohammad Sabir Statistician, Al Nafees Medical College Isra University, Islamabad


Background: Problem based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach that utilizes problems or cases as a context for students to acquire problem solving skills. It promotes communication skills, active learning, and critical thinking skills. It encourages peer teaching and active participation in a group. Methods: It was a cross-sectional study conducted at Al Nafees Medical College, Isra University, Islamabad, in one month duration. This study was conducted on 193 students of both 1st and 2nd year MBBS. Each PBL consists of three sessions, spaced by 2–3 days. In the first session students were provided a PBL case developed by both basic and clinical science faculty. In Session 2 (group discussion), they share, integrate their knowledge with the group and Wrap up (third session), was concluded at the end. A questionnaire based survey was conducted to find out overall effectiveness of PBL sessions. Results: Teaching through PBLs greatly improved the problem solving and critical reasoning skills with 60% students of first year and 71% of 2nd year agreeing that the acquisition of knowledge and its application in solving multiple choice questions (MCQs) was greatly improved by these sessions. They observed that their self-directed learning, intrinsic motivation and skills to relate basic concepts with clinical reasoning which involves higher order thinking have greatly enhanced. Students found PBLs as an effective strategy to promote teamwork and critical thinking skills. Conclusion: PBL is an effective method to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills among medical students.


Baig LA, Asad F. Introducing problem-based learning in a medical school with traditional/conventional curriculum. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2003; 13(7): 378–81.

Forbes H, Duke M, Prosser M. Students' perceptions oflearning outcomes from group-based, problem-based teachingand learning activities. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2001;6(3):205–17.

Chen YC, Fang JT, Lin JD, Cherng WJ. Evaluation ofproblem based learning education after clerkship at the ChangGung University School of Medicine. Chang Gung Med J 2002;25(11):758–63.

Seneviratne RD, Samarasekera DD, Karunathilake IM, Ponnamperuma GG. Students' perception of problem-basedlearning in the medical curriculum of the faculty of medicine,University of Colombo. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2001;30(4):379–83.

Visschers-Pleijers AJ, Dolmans DH, Wolfhagena IH, Van der Vleuten CP. Development and validation of a questionnaire to identify learning-oriented group interactions in PBL. Med Teach 2005;27(4):375–81.

Khan I, Fareed A. Problem based learning variant: transition phase for a large Institution. J Pak Med Assoc 2001;51(8):271–4.

De Grave WS, Dolmans DH, Van Der Vleuten, CP. Students' perceptions about the occurrence of critical incidents in tutorial groups, Med Teach 2001;23(1):49–54.

Habib F, Baig L, Mansuri FA. Opinion of medical students regarding problem based learning. J Pak Med Assoc 2006;56(10):430–32.

Haque Z, Mazahir I. Effects of problem based learning in basic medical sciences. Med Channel 2006;12(1):21–5.

Gilkison A. Techniques used by “expert” and “non- expert” tutors to facilitate problem–based learning tutorials in an undergraduate medical curriculum. Med Educ 2003;37(1):6–14.

Takahashi Y. Problem–based learning and task–based learning: a practical synthesis. Kaohsiung J Med Sci 2008;24(3):31–3.

Leong KC, Teng Cl, Ng CJ. Learning resources and activities: students’ feedback from two Malaysian medical schools. Med J Malaysia 2007;62(3):265–7.

Parikh A, McReelis K, Hodges B. Student feedback in problem based learning: a survey of 103 final year students across five Ontario medical schools. Med Educ 2001;35(7):632–6.

Papinczak T, Young L, Groves M, Haynes M. An analysis of peer, self, and tutor assessment in problem-based learning tutorials. Med Teach 2007;29(5):e122–32.

Lohfeld L, Neville A, Norman G. PBL in undergraduate medical education: a qualitative study of the views of Canadian residents. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2005;10(3):189–214.

Machado JL, Machado VM, Grec W, Bollela VR, Vieira JE. Self- and peer assessment may not be an accurate measure of PBL tutorial process. BMC Med Educ 2008;8:55–9.

Chegwidden WR. A problem-based learning pathway for medical students: improving the process through action research. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2006;35(9):642–6.

Schmidt HG, Rotgans JI, Yew EH. The process of problem-based learning: what works and why. Med Educ 2011;45(8):792–80.

GweeMC. Globalization of problem-based learning (PBL): cross-cultural implications. Kaohsiung J Med Sci 2008;24(3 Suppl):S14–22.

O'Neill PA. The role of basic sciences in a problem-based learning clinical curriculum Med Educ 2000;34:608–13.

Das M, Mpofu DJ, Hasan MY, Stewart TS. Student perceptions of tutor skills in problem-based learning tutorials. Med Educ 2002;36(3):272–8.

Oda Y, Koizumi S. Status of medical education reform at Saga Medical School 5 years after introducing PBL. Kaohsiung J Med Sci 2008;24(3 Suppl):S46–53.

Moust J, Roebertsen H, Savelberg H, De Rijk. Revitalising PBL groups: evaluating PBL with study teams. Educ Health (Abingdon) 2005;18(1):62–73.

Khoo HE. Implementation of problem-based learning in Asian medical schools and students' perceptions of their experience. Med Educ 2003;37(5):401–9