STUDYING SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY: THE EFFECT OF A PROBLEM BASED LEARNING (PBL) EXPERIENCE
Problem Based Learning, (PBL) was introduced in Medicine Grades in the 60´s in Case Western Reserve University (USA) and McMaster University (Canada). Positive results obtained by this experience extended its use to other Higher Education areas (HE) as Law or Engineering. However, Spanish universities are implementing recently this learning strategy and, although being of central importance in its development, Psychology is a new area of implementation. Also, data about its factual efficacy compared with the traditional teaching are scarce.
In this study we implement a PBL experience in the scope of Social Psychology classes where students completed a scale that measures the perception students have about its efficacy and the impact on their learning. The sample was compound by 190 students (152 women and 38 men) from 4 different groups. Mean age was 19.81 (SD = 4.92); range from 17 to 51. They had never had a PBL experience and participated in Social Psychology classes. They attended to a traditional class followed by a PBL class and evaluated each class after the end of each theme.
Our results show that students perceive the PBL experience as increasing their learning of the subject. They also evaluate the teacher higher in their teaching competencies in a PBL experience as compared with the traditional one. However, this experience did not increase the involvement of the students with the subject. Thus, this is an independent factor that highly affects learning. We will discuss the implications of these results for implementing PBL in HE.