Publication 6488

Hendry D. G., Frommer M. & Walker R. A. (1999) Constructivism and problem-based learning. Journal of Further and Higher Education 23(3): 359–371. Fulltext at
Constructivism is a philosophy based on the fundamental assumption that knowledge cannot exist outside our minds. Knowledge cannot be given from one mind to another. New knowledge is ‘constructed’ or created from within individuals through experience. In higher education, problem‐based learning (PBL) is an accepted instructional method or strategy for structuring learners’ experiences. We apply constructivist philosophy to PBL and incorporate the following variables: prior knowledge, quality of problems, tutor performance, group functioning, time spent in individual study, interest in subject matter, and assessment in a model of students’ learning in a medical course. Regardless of the specific teaching methods adopted in higher education, students’ creation of high levels of understanding and competence are promoted when arousal is optimised, self‐efficacy is maximised and anxiety is minimised. An optimal learning environment in a PBL course includes teaching that supports reflection and cooperation, sufficient time for independent study, and formative and summative assessment that is aligned with students’ learning issues.

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