Problem-based learning in Guyana: a nursing education experiment

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Aim:This paper invites the reader into sharing a journey of change through a new curriculum grounded in a problem-based learning (PBL) approach to education in the first year of a diploma nursing programme in Guyana.Background:In Guyana, students are trained using traditional teaching methods: lectures and a single, often outdated, text. The authors had been dissatisfied previously with their students' knowledge retention, critical thinking skills and application abilities. The authors became advocates for change through the introduction of a PBL approach in nursing education within their school.Methods:PBL is quite different from ‘problem solving’, and the goal of learning is not to solve the problem, which has been presented. Rather, the problem is used to help students identify their own learning needs as they attempt to understand the problem, to pull together, synthesize and apply information to the problem, and to begin to work effectively to learn from group members as well as tutors. Students met in small groups to identify the problem; explore their pre-existing knowledge; generate hypotheses and possible mechanisms; and identify learning issues.Conclusion:Students in their first exposure to self-directed, small group learning can immediately thrive as active learners with minimal guidance and support. The programme was evaluated with the admission and scoring of homework/exams based on the school syllabus for the individual courses; and continual small group oral as well as a final written qualitative evaluation. Specific positive and negative learning factors are addressed.

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