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The aim of this study was to determine the efficiency of the inclusion of Problem Based Learning (PBL) on practical traditional learning approaches on students' knowledge acquisition by using a quasi-experimental Pre-test and Post-test.

The integration of practice curricula within Pharmacy degree is crucial in generating graduates capable of solving therapeutic problems. PBL is used as a strategy which allows to students to acquire knowledge through an active learning environment by training them to identify to solve real case-problems. We have designed a novel teaching tool with an academic-professional profile to improve students’ ability to learn Physiology and Physiopathology subjects. This tool stimulates the student’s integrated learning capacity by acquisition of fundamental practical and transversal skills to educate students of the Degree in Pharmacy.

The implementation of PBL combined with active conventional learning methods was applied to the Female Reproductive System practical lesson. Small groups of 3-4 students of a total of 74 second year Pharmacy students participated in this study. A case problems were designed and delivered in the Virtual Campus with enough time for its completion by self-learning using student’s own bibliography. At the beginning of the practical session, all the students were given pre-test. Students solved the case-problem posed by:
a) identification of the phases of the ovarian cycle by histopathological analysis with optic microscopy;
b) uterine cervix cytological diagnosis from patients;
c) virtual computer simulation by using PhysioEX 9.0 software.

At the end of the practical class, post-test with the same ten pre-test questions was conducted. The contribution of the acquired knowledge from each learning strategy was relative to total score practical test as well as the total scores from pre- and post-test. Paired t-test, a repeated-measures ANOVA and Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to analyze the data obtained from pre- and post-test.

Mixed PBL teaching strategy led a significant improvement in the post-test score, in the percentage of students who obtained the highest post-test score compared to pre-test (P= 0.0001) as well as a high pre-test/post-test correlation (P= 0.0001). Within-subjects repeated measure of ANOVA demonstrated an overall significant difference in the estimated marginal means and the effectiveness over time of each particular PBL mixed intervention. The contribution of both Pathohistological and Cytological diagnosis tools led to significant increases of the percentage of student who obtained scores high performances, the highest estimated marginal means and very high Pearson’s correlations relative to the final and total pre- and post-test. Students using the PBL-computer simulation approach much better knowledge acquisition with the highest mean of scores in both tests, but the gain between pre- and post-test was not so effective.

The effectiveness of mixed PBL teaching strategy has been demonstrated. Pre-tests gave students a preview of what to expect from the female reproductive practical unit and of their previous knowledge acquired by self-study. The interaction between traditional learning resources and clinical cases with student-led debates improved the students’ knowledge acquisition and achieved better student learning effects.