Physician Education and Scholarship Center

Methods of Learning

Medical schools typically utilize problem based learning or lecture based learning teaching methods.

Problem based learning is an academic, clinical, or ethical scenario, in which students select the area of study to pursue in their own time.


  1. The tutor can assess how much each student is learning based on the student's participation in discussion within the weekly tutorials    
  2. Students struggling receive help earlier    
  3. Self-directed learning which encourages a shift in power from an academic tutor to the students



  1. PBL tutors may be underused        
  2. Large number of separate tutors needed to deliver problem-based learning to small groups of eight students


Lecture-based learning (LBL) consists of information delivered mainly through large lectures or seminars. Students are encouraged to do their own reading between lectures as the lectures will only cover the main points.


  1. Students gain the opportunity to listen to leading clinicians or academics            
  2. It is cheaper to organize with fewer staff members who can deliver lectures to large numbers of students at once



  1. The students get much less interaction with both tutor and colleagues because they passively absorb information in lectures rather than questioning and searching out answers.                
  2. The lack of interaction makes it harder for tutors to monitor the progress of the individual students                
  3. Struggling students may receive help rather late

Source: A lecture on Teaching learning methods by Rakesh Biswas MD


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