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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


JAY, Julie. Problem Based Learning - a review of students' perceptions in an Occupational Therapy undergraduate curriculum. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2014, vol.44, n.1, pp.56-61. ISSN 2310-3833.

BACKGROUND: The Occupational Therapy department of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has been following a hybrid Problem Based Learning (PBL) Model to teach its undergraduate students since 1993. It was introduced to better equip students with the skills to cope with the evolving healthcare sector in South Africa. Internationally, studies indicate that students have a positive attitude towards this method of instruction as it promotes lifelong learning skills, but South African data are lacking in this regard. SUMMARY OF WORK: A retrospective record review of existing data was used to ascertain students' opinions of the PBL process. Data were made available from a routine student assessment undertaken annually over two years. First to fourth year students completed questionnaires rating their opinions of the PBL process. SUMMARY OF RESULTS: Results identified that students were positive towards aspects of the PBL process, specifically around working in groups and carrying out self-directed learning tasks. But it was evident that this positive attitude fluctuates in the second to third year of the course as students have difficulty managing the work load before demonstrating improved coping skills in their final year. However, a majority of the students had a negative perception of the PBL process overall. CONCLUSIONS: A variety of factors could be impacting on the students' overall perceptions of the PBL curriculum, possibly related to the hybrid nature of the course, and the work load. It is clear they also are distrustful of the process in supporting their skill and knowledge development.

Keywords : Problem based learning; occupational therapy education; student perceptions.

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