Comparing students' attitudes in problem-based and conventional curricula

David M. Kaufman, Karen V. Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Purpose. To compare the attitudes of students in a new problem-based learning (PBL) medical curriculum and in the previous conventional curriculum after the second curriculum year, prior to the clinical clerkships. The authors hypothesized that the PBL students would have more favorable attitudes toward their learning environment, social issues in medicine, and their curriculum. Method. The students in the classes of 1995 (conventional curriculum) and 1996 (PBL curriculum) at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine were asked to complete two main questionnaires and a few additional items that measure attitudes. The admission variables of the two classes were equivalent. Their attitude ratings were compared using t-tests. Results. Response rates averaged 87% (73 of 84 students) and 68% (57 of 84) for the PBL and conventional classes, respectively. The students in the PBL class had more positive attitudes toward their learning environment on the subscales for enthusiasm and authoritarianism (i.e., they rated their curriculum more favorably for democratic decision making); they were less positive on the student-interaction subscale. No significant difference emerged between the two classes on any subscale for attitudes about social issues in medicine. The PBL students reported more positive attitudes toward their curriculum. Conclusion. The study results support the superiority of the PBL curriculum regarding the students' attitudes to ward their medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1099
Number of pages4
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996
Externally publishedYes


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