Brief History of PBL Problem-Based Learning in Medical Education
Problem-based learning was ﬁrst developed in medical education in the 1950s. The development of PBL is generally credited to the work of medical educators at McMasters University in Canada in the 1970s. Around the same time, other medical schools in various countries, such as Michigan State University in the United States, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and
Newcastle University in Australia were also developing problem-based learning curricula (Barrows, 1996).
PBL was conceived and implemented in respons students’ unsatisfactory clinical performance (Barrows, 1996; Barrows and Tamblyn, 1980) that resulted from an emphasis on memorization of fragmented biomedical knowledge in the traditional health scienceeducation. This emphasis was blamed for failing to equip students with clinical problem-solving and lifelong learning skills (Albanese and Mitchell, 1993; Barrows, 1996).
In the 1980s, the wider spread of PBL in the United States was accelerated by the GPEP report (Report of the Panel on the General Professional Education of the Physician and College Preparation for Medicine) sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (Muller, 1984). This report made recommendations for changes in medical education, such as promoting independent learning and problem solving, reducing lecture hours, reducing scheduled time, and evaluating the ability to learn independently (Barrows,
1996). These recommendations strongly supported the implementation of PBL in medical education. During this period of time, some medical schools also began
to develop alternative, parallel problem-based curricula (e.g., the Primary Care Curriculum at the University of New Mexico, the New Pathways Program in
Medical School of Harvard University) for a subset of their students (Aspy et al., 1993; Barrows, 1996).
Later, a number of medical schools, such as the University of Hawaii, Harvard University, and the University of Sherbrooke in Canada, assumed the more arduous tasks of converting their entire curriculum to PBL.
In the 1990s, many more medical schools, such as Southern Illinois University, Rush, Bowman Gray, and Tufts, adopted PBL as their primary instructional
method (Aspy et al., 1993; Barrows, 1994). Since its ﬁrst implementation several decades ago, PBL has become a prominent pedagogical method in medical
schools and health-science-related programs throughout the world, including North America, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and India.