Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess changes in expectations and perceptions among physician assistant (PA) program matriculants regarding small group problem-based learning (PBL) from the beginning to the end of the first didactic year. Some of the stress experienced by students entering health science professional programs using PBL may be due to lack of awareness of the goals and norms of PBL which differ from those of traditional lecture-based curricula. A change in student expectations as a result of participation in PBL would indicate that these goals and norms can be learned through participation. Methods: The authors developed the PBL Readiness Questionnaire, a 71-item 10-point Likert scale regarding student expectations of the PBL experience regarding self, others and the facilitator. Questionnaire items were developed using data from a student survey as well as literature on characteristics associated with successful performance in a PBL setting. The questionnaire was administered to 60 PA students at the beginning of the first year fall semester and again at the end of the first year spring semester. Results: Analysis revealed a significant change from pre to posttest on total score as well as on the subscales of Expectations of Self and Expectations of Facilitators. The subscale of Expectations of Others approached significance. Conclusions: The change in Expectations of Facilitator may reflect the different role of facilitator vs. lecturer. Facilitators challenge physician assistant students with questions rather than providing information. The change in Expectations of Self could indicate that physician assistant students do not have accurate expectations of their own role in this type of group setting, and the experience of participating in PBL may positively affect their expectations. An area for future study would be a psychometric analysis of the questionnaire items in order to refine the tool and ascertain the reliability and validity of items and subscales.
Hawkins S, Hertweck M, Goreczny A, Laird J. Effect of two semesters of small group problem-based learning (PBL) on expectations of physician assistant students regarding self, others, and facilitator using the PBL Readiness Questionnaire. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2016 Jan 01;14(1), Article 5.