National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honors Education: Proceedings of the Second Schreyer National Conference 2001, ed. Josephine M. Carubia & Renata S. Engel. Copyright © 2004 The National Collegiate Honors Council.


In an effort to cope with the vastly expanding body of knowledge in medicine, medical educators in the last 20 years began to realize that not all the facts one needed to know to practice could be 'taught' in four years of medical school. Furthermore, recall of material learned during the 'chock-full-of-facts' early years was discouragingly poor, and learned information went out of date very quickly. Educators came to the realization that producing students who were life-long self-learners was a reasonable solution. Even earlier, a few schools such as McMaster University in Canada began using problem based learning (PBL) in their medical curriculum. Medical scholars recognized that this technique might also be part of the solution and began implementing it in their curriculum. Now, over 50% of medical schools have a significant problem-based learning component in their curriculum. Use of PBL is becoming widely accepted and used in various forms. There are many examples of its use now in primary and secondary (K-12) and post-secondary (college) education, and in disciplines such as law, engineering, architecture, social work, optometry, management and administration, economics, nursing, and dentistry, to name a few.