Problem-Based Learning in Professional Training: Experiences of School Psychology Trainers in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a method of curriculum delivery that has been widely implemented and evaluated in medical education and other disciplines, with growing interest in its use in training professional psychologists. In this article, a national survey of psychology educators in the United Kingdom is reported, undertaken following the large-scale implementation of PBL within school psychology training. Telephone interviews were conducted with educators in the United Kingdom on 13 of the 16 programs to investigate the purposes that PBL serves and the way it is used. Interview transcripts were analyzed by using a qualitative approach based on thematic analysis procedures and a network of co-occurring codes built to organize the data and develop a thematic map. Two main types of themes were identified (conceptual and operational), and variations in practice were found in relation to dimensions with opposing poles. The main conceptual themes were uniformity of implementation of PBL, extensiveness of PBL coverage, and degree of integration of PBL with other modes of curriculum delivery (exclusiveness of PBL). These were associated with a range of operational features; for example, time devoted to PBL, student and educator preparation, and PBL delivery and assessment. Implications for faculty considering the introduction of PBL as a method of curriculum delivery or an instructional tool in professional psychology training are explored.

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