Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Learning versus Practicing a Profession

"The practice of a profession is not the same as learning to practice the profession" (p. 83).
This interesting quote appears in a article by Paul Kirschner, John Sweller and Richard E. Clark, titled, "Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential and Inquiry-Based Teaching (Educational Psychologist, 2006, 41(2), 75-86.

I know that this should not be an insight to me, but it is. In this article they review efforts to prepare medical and law students using problem-based methods of instruction and demonstrate effectively that these methods are not as effective as more direct techniques of learning the basics knowledge of medicine and law before attempting to apply these in practice settings. In general, studies have found that problem-based learning is not superior in terms of various outcomes such as clinical problem-solving skills.

The authors conclude that medical students like other students need to acquire basic knowledge and conceptual frameworks for organizing that knowledge prior to trying to put this information into practice through problem solving. They note that techniques such as a process worksheet can guide students that provide a description of the phases one should go through in solving a problem may be a more structured way of introducing effective problem-solving strategies.

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