Problem Based Learning in Radiology Education: Benefits and Applications

Published:October 06, 2022DOI:
      Throughout residency there are inevitably times when a resident views a case with which they are unfamiliar. Put yourself in the shoes of a radiology resident in such a situation. Despite the knowledge learned and the many hours working in residency, there are always diagnoses that are not easily deciphered . In these situations, the resident must be able to identify their knowledge gaps and take advantage of the resources around them, perhaps by referencing a textbook or reading through some of the many credible sources available online. Perhaps it will lead to a conversation with other residents in the reading room, sparking a discussion that invokes curiosity and takes advantage of collaboration to lead to a deeper understanding of the case at hand. The cooperation and open-ended search for knowledge in such a scenario mimics the approach emphasized in Problem Based Learning (PBL). In simple terms, PBL is a learner-centered approach that empowers learners to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop a viable solution to a defined problem (
      • Savery J.R.
      Overview of problem-based learning: definitions and distinctions.
      ). Unlike the similar method of Case-based learning which takes advantage of a facilitator to guide the session and allows the students to prepare for the case ahead of time, PBL uses less guidance and minimal preparation to increase collaboration among learners, allows learners to identify and study key problems or learning objectives based on their knowledge gaps, and creates a memorable experience that will help retain knowledge (
      • Srinivasan M
      • Wilkes M
      • Stevenson F
      • et al.
      Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions.
      ). Today, many medical schools nationwide take advantage of PBL in their curricula to prepare their students for the situations they will encounter in residency and in practice. This pedagogy can be expanded beyond medical school and applied to radiology residency to continue to develop critical thinking when faced with unfamiliar cases in the reading room.

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