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Problem-Based Learning Within Endocrine Physiology Lectures

Methods were needed to improve the interest of medical students in the 10-lecture Endocrine Physiology block at the end of the second semester of study. Other incentives for improvement included the possibility of attracting students into endocrine research electives and the pressure to improve teaching approaches that results from the high tuition they pay. The principal approach adopted was that of whole class problem-based learning sessions (PBLS) in which the lecture period begins with a brief overview of one to three simplified cases, followed by the usual didactic lecture. At the end of the lecture, each PBL case is read in detail, with several questions posed to the students. Their answers are then used to reinforce concepts from the lecture material. This method can also provide some continuity between lectures, either by using a case in several lectures to illustrate different points, or by posing a question at the beginning of class that illustrates a point from the prior lecture. The outcome of this approach has been very successful: student evaluations of the lecture block and their attendance have significantly improved.

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