Students learn the Foundational Medical Sciences through inquiry-based collaborative pedagogical strategies, namely team-based learning (TBL) and problem-based learning (PBL).
The focus of the first course is on medical physiology through team-based learning (TBL). To maximize the benefits of learning through problem-based learning (PBL) in later semesters, it is important for students to have a common base of knowledge in the body’s normal functioning. This is the case because the complexity of authentic medical cases can be disorienting. The foundation of mechanistic knowledge (i.e., physiological knowledge) will allow students to map and anchor the additional learning necessary to make sense of PBL cases.
PBL is an evidence-based educational strategy aligned with a constructivist philosophy of learning. Our approach acknowledges that clinical reasoning is knowledge-based; for this reason, we support students in initiating their own learning and building mental models of disease that integrate foundational science knowledge within a clinical framework. The four essential elements of learning through PBL are the following:
- PBL is contextual because the process is centered around the presentation of authentic medical cases to motivate students to identify and address gaps in their own knowledge.
- PBL is collaborative because students work in teams to make sense of a medical case, identify gaps in knowledge, clarify misconceptions, explain concepts to each other, and generate deeper understanding. Through the process of PBL, students develop the vital communication, teamwork, and clinical reasoning skills they will need as doctors.
- PBL is constructive because students create their own understanding and learning through discussion, building on each other’s contributions, and the identification and sharing of appropriate learning resources.
- PBL centers self-determination because students identify their own gaps in knowledge and corresponding learning objectives.
PBL will help you develop competencies in communication, feedback, and teamwork. Please keep in mind that our conversations may not always be easy and that we sometimes will make mistakes in our speaking and our listening; we will need patience, courage, imagination, or any number of qualities in combination to engage our academic sources, our classmates, our faculty, and our own ideas and experiences. Thus, an additional aim of our course will be for us to increase our facility with the sometimes-difficult conversations that arise as we deepen our understandings of multiple perspectives while centering respect for each other and ourselves.