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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 125-126

The role of self-directed learning in problem-based learning: Health professions education

1 Department of General Dentistry, Penang International Dental College, Penang, Malaysia
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Penang International Dental College, Penang, Malaysia
3 Department of Oral Pathology, Penang International Dental College, Penang, Malaysia
4 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Penang International Dental College, Penang, Malaysia

Date of Web Publication2-Jun-2016

Correspondence Address:
Jayashri Tamanna Nerali
Department of General Dentistry, Penang International Dental College, Penang
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2321-4848.183364

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How to cite this article:
Nerali JT, Telang LA, Telang A, Chakravarthy PV. The role of self-directed learning in problem-based learning: Health professions education. Arch Med Health Sci 2016;4:125-6

How to cite this URL:
Nerali JT, Telang LA, Telang A, Chakravarthy PV. The role of self-directed learning in problem-based learning: Health professions education. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jun 27];4:125-6. Available from: https://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2016/4/1/125/183364

  Introduction Top

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a popular educational methodology in health professional schools worldwide.[1],[2] The four key learning principles on which PBL is based are constructive, collaborative, contextual, and self-directed learning (SDL).[3],[4] Students in Healthcare professions need to be self-directed learners to cope with PBL as well as other changes in the educational environment. A self-directed learner is a student who appreciates learning, is goal-focused, displays initiative and independence, and is known to be persistent in learning.[1] As a student-centered means of learning, PBL focuses on active learning and SDL;[2] hence, SDL is a very important component. In the PBL process, stage one is a presentation of PBL problem where facts, ideas, and learning issues are generated along with testing of previous knowledge and in stage two these learning issues are discussed with the integration of previous and new learning. SDL is an important part of this learning cycle and forms a link between the two stages of PBL process, which help the learner in integrating the knowledge and consolidating the learning and understanding.

  Self-Directed Learning in Problem-Based Learning Top

SDL is an important principle promoted in health professions education (HPE), particularly with the increasing use of online learning.[1] As defined best by Knowles-SDL is a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.[1]

The learners today are expected to transform into lifelong learners of the future and SDL is an important component of PBL that helps student in this process. SDL implies that learners play an active role in planning, monitoring and evaluating their learning process.[5] The emphasis on SDL is an important distinguishing feature of PBL, as learners discuss and plan approaches to tackle their gaps in knowledge while reflecting on their progress, as well as the progress of their group. This makes them aware of their prior knowledge and motivates them to take charge of their learning, which is an important skill to become a lifelong learner.[4] Schmidt in 2000 stated that “SDL is the preparedness of a student to engage in learning activities defined by him or herself, rather than by a teacher.”[6]

Research evidence suggests that some features in PBL support the development of SDL. In PBL process, students start working on a problem before they have received other curriculum inputs and generate their own learning issues by identification of their knowledge gaps. The applications of the new knowledge to the problem and learning to reflect collectively as a group are all crucial features that foster SDL and this, in turn, is positively related to academic performance in medical education.[6],[7]

PBL works best when students and faculty understand the factors that influence learning such as motivation, reflection and lifelong learning and they are aware of their roles.[8] Since students have different learning abilities and are not homogenous in their knowledge, experience and learning styles, SDL as part of PBL process suits students' diverse learning needs.[9] Hence, the collaboration between students and faculty is crucial in the process of students becoming self-directed learners.[10] The role of a faculty member from that of a guru (sage on the stage) has now transformed into a guide by the side. This role change is one of the important contributors to the success of SDL.

  Self-Directed Learning Versus Self-Regulated Learning in Problem-Based Learning Top

In PBL process, students learn to become independent and responsible learners and have a control over their learning task through the development of SDL as well as self-regulated learning (SRL) skills. The self-directed learner initiates the learning task, whereas, in SRL, the task can be set by the teacher.[11] SRL is an active learning process, where learners set goals, plan, select strategies, manage their resources, self-monitor, and self-evaluate their learning.[12],[13] Although SDL and SRL are both active learning processes, in the context of PBL, SDL is a broader concept which includes SRL.[6] SDL refers to an internal change in beliefs and SRL refers to actual strategies necessary to move toward the goal of SDL.[9] Having said that some authors argue that the term SDL and SRL can be used synonymously in educational literature. Moreover, the learner's self-motivation is an important aspect to develop SDL and SRL skills in PBL and also essential for lifelong learning in HPE.[13]

  Conclusion Top

Implementation of PBL in HPE can motivate learners to be more active and helps to develop SDL skills. SDL is important as it helps a student to develop life-long learning skills which is an essential skill expected of a health care professional.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Premkumar K, Pahwa P, Banerjee A, Baptiste K, Bhatt H, Lim HJ. Changes in self-directed learning readiness in dental students: A mixed-methods study. J Dent Educ 2014; 78:934-43.  Back to cited text no. 1
Zheng JW, Zhang SY, Yang C, Zhang ZY, Shen GF. Creating an effective PBL case in oral and maxillofacial surgery at a Chinese dental school: A dental education primer. J Dent Educ 2011;75:1496-501.  Back to cited text no. 2
Dolmans DH, De Grave W, Wolfhagen IH, van der Vleuten CP. Problem-based learning: Future challenges for educational practice and research. Med Educ 2005;39:732-41.  Back to cited text no. 3
Telang A. Problem-based learning in health professions education: An overview. Arch Med Health Sci 2014;2:243-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
  Medknow Journal  
Noguchi J. Evaluating self-directed learning skills in SALC modules. Stud Self Access Learn J 2014;5:153-72.  Back to cited text no. 5
Loyens SM, Magda J, Rikers RM. Self-directed learning in problem-based learning and its relationships with self-regulated learning. Educ Psychol Rev 2008;20:411-27.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ihm JJ, Lee G, Kim KK, Jang KT, Jin BH. Who succeeds at dental school? Factors predicting students' academic performance in a dental school in republic of Korea. J Dent Educ 2013;77:1616-23.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bate E, Hommes J, Duvivier R, Taylor DC. Problem-based learning (PBL): Getting the most out of your students — their roles and responsibilities: AMEE Guide No 84. Med Teach 2014;36:1-12.  Back to cited text no. 8
Malan SB, Ndlovu M, Engelbrecht P. Introducing problem-based learning (PBL) into a foundation programme to develop self-directed learning skills. S Afr J Educ 2014;34:1-16.  Back to cited text no. 9
Silen C, Uhlin L. Self-directed learning — A learning issue for students and faculty! Teach High Educ 2008;13:461-75.  Back to cited text no. 10
Robertson J. The educational affordances of blogs for self-directed learning. Comput Educ 2011;57:1628-44.  Back to cited text no. 11
English MC, Kitsantas A. Supporting student self-regulated learning in problem- and project-based learning. Interdiscip J Probl Based Learn 2013;7:128-50.  Back to cited text no. 12
Demirören M, Turan S, Öztuna D. Medical students' self-efficacy in problem-based learning and its relationship with self-regulated learning. Med Educ Online 2016;21:30049.  Back to cited text no. 13

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