Purpose: The impact of prior problem-based learning (PBL) facilitation experience (measured by length of time facilitating) on student learning and student outcomes is unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate relationships of facilitator experience in problem-based learning on student outcomes. This study utilized both modified essay questions (MEQ) in the form of patient management assessments and multiple choice question (MCQ) assessments to evaluate different aspects of student acquisition and application of knowledge. Method: This study examined scores from six multiple choice question examinations and six patient management assessments (PMA), one each from six 5-week units arranged by organ system administered to five cohorts of first-year physician assistant students in a hybrid problem-based learning program where 18 of 45 didactic credits are solely problem-based learning. Facilitation experience, measured in total number of prior units facilitated, was calculated for each facilitator and compared with student evaluative measures. Results: Pearson product moment correlations comparing facilitator experience and scores on the patient management assessments and multiple choice question tests showed no statistically significant correlations between facilitator experience and student outcomes. Univariate analysis of variance tests comparing whether faculty were full-time versus adjunct status and status as graduates of a problem-based learning program versus graduates of programs with other pedagogies with student outcomes showed no statistically significant differences. Conclusions: Neither experience of the facilitator, nor status as full-time versus adjunct, nor status as graduate of a problem-based learning program versus other pedagogy was related to student outcomes. Each facilitator in the study participated in training, observation, and weekly meetings, which may outweigh the effects of facilitator experience. Other factors in need of exploration related to student outcomes in future studies include individual intellectual ability, emotional stability, motivation, self-efficacy, and perseverance.

Author Bio(s)

Susan Hawkins, MSEd, PA-C, is an associate professor and Problem-based Learning (PBL) Coordinator in the Physician Assistant Studies program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She also does PBL trainings for faculty nationwide and serves as an ARC-PA accreditation site visitor.

Nicole Brown, MS, PA-C, is an assistant professor and Skills Coordinator in the Physician Assistant Studies program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She also practices clinically in emergency medicine at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Anthony J. Goreczny, PhD, is a professor in the Counseling Psychology program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA,. He maintains a private practice with interests in the areas of Developmental Disabilities, Health Psychology, Assessment, Clinical and Educational Psychology, and Ethical, Legal and Psychological Implications of Genetics Technologies.




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