Characteristics of Problems for Problem-Based Learning: The Students’ Perspective

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Nachamma Sockalingam
Henk G. Schmidt

Abstract

This study aimed to identify salient problem characteristics perceived by students in problem-based curricula. To this end, reflective essays from biomedical students (N = 34) on characteristics of good problems were text analyzed. Students identified eleven characteristics, of which they found the extent to which the problem leads to desired learning outcomes as the most important characteristic. The extent to which the problem stimulates elaboration and the extent to which the problem promotes team effort were considered to be the least important problem characteristics. We clustered the eleven characteristics into two categories, “features” or “functions,” based on the perceived roles of the characteristics. Identification and clustering of the eleven characteristics provide a useful basis for future problem design and evaluation.

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