The University of Hong Kong (HONG KONG)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Page: 2461 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) has become the latest fashion trend for classroom learning, especially in the medical field. There have been numerous researches in exploring the effectiveness of PBL.
Problem- based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of an authentic problem, given by an instructor; the problem is the vehicle with which students learn.The problem is the starting point of teaching and learning and new knowledge is learned in the process of solving the problem. It aims to promote critical-thinking skills, group work and most importantly filling in the gap between “theory-practice”.
This study takes place at The University of Hong Kong at the course of CCST 9005 while most students have Cantonese as their mother-tongued with English as the second language. It is conducted in Sep 2010.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a PBL experience in scientific and health setting in undergraduate program as well as assessing the effectiveness of this delivery. In addition, it serves to evaluate the effectiveness of PBL learning where English is a second language in the region.

Students are allocated into groups with group number not more than 12 in small classroom teaching. The PBL learning is conducted during tutorials with five problem- based case scenarios being discussed throughout the semester. Every week constitutes one tutorial class spanning two hours. Students are expected to finish one case scenario in two tutorials and submitted a group report after completion of each case discussion.
A group leader is appointed in the beginning of each class to lead the discussion and a secretary is appointed to hold minutes. A facilitator/instructor acts as a background audience and probes and challenges the students and provides guidance for them at times.

Discussion and Conclusion:
Many students are experiencing PBL learning in the first time of their education, yet we are receiving very positive feedback. Overall, students from our course CCST 9005 have provided favorable and promising responses in the Student evaluation of Teaching and Learning Questionnaire as well as our own course questionnaire. When asked to rate the usefulness of the PBL tutorials in helping them to understand the issues of science and health, 93.4% of students rate score 7 and above in a 10 point scale (1-worst, 10-best) with 0% rating score 5 and below. 20% of the students rated a score of 6 and 40% of students rated a score of 8 and 9.Generally, we seem to have achieved what we lay out to achieve initially (enhance critical-thinking skills, group work, filling in the gap of theory-practice). However, facilitator has come to notice that acquisition of prior knowledge of the case scenario is very important for students. Students should have certain background knowledge in order to engage in a fruitful discussion. In addition, different students/tutorial groups perform differently due to their acquisition of prior knowledge. For future goers in implementing PBL in their teaching practice, it would be a point to ponder on in designing PBL problem catering for their respective audience.Though English is a second language for many Hong Kong students, it does not affect the benefit of PBL teaching and many students have relatively good command of English.
Problem-based learning, pedagogy.