Developing Patient Cases for Problem-Based Learning in Dental Education

Developing Patient Cases for Problem-Based Learning in Dental Education

Author: 
Pauline Haruko Imai
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
In problem-based learning (PBL), students learned factual knowledge as well as developed critical thinking, problem solving, and self-directed learning skills by exploring issues in patient cases. Students in dental PBL programs worldwide did not consistently demonstrate the desired PBL outcomes. However, students and educators from a Canadian hybrid PBL dental program concurred that students’ developed critical thinking, problem solving, and self-directed learning skills. Seven Canadian educators’ experiences with PBL case development were examined in the qualitative, phenomenological study. Case writers wrote well-structured PBL cases because students had limited time in the curriculum to learn the information. Predetermined learning objectives and a diagnostic problem-solving approach framed the PBL cases. Lectures and recycled cases further diluted the PBL philosophy in the hybrid program. Educators’ thoughts about PBL and their perceived teaching role and philosophies influenced PBL case design and implementation. External factors such as time, school culture, and tutors’ facilitation style in PBL sessions significantly affected student learning. Tutors’ facilitation of PBL influenced student learning and affected student outcomes more than whether the case was ill structured or well structured. Recommendations for dental PBL case writers included: reflecting on one’s teaching philosophy, choosing between PBL and case-based learning, identifying the desired student outcomes, considering the school culture, analyzing the curriculum, aligning the case difficulty to the students’ abilities, using a content expert and PBL expert to develop the case, and writing the case for the local culture.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my husband, Eric and my children, Kaitlin and Jordan for their patience, love, and support as I pursued my doctoral journey. Thank you to JoJo, Tina, and my dad, Tony, for all those home-cooked meals and hosting all the family events while I was busy on the computer. A special tribute to my late mom, June, whose strong work ethic and positive attitude were instilled in me and helped me attain my goals. Thank you to my dearest friend, Rick, who always believed that I could achieve any dream I wanted.
Acknowledgements: 
A special thank you to my chair, Dr. Shelley Kresyman, for her unwavering support, encouragement, and feedback on my numerous versions, as I became a qualitative researcher. Her gentle questions encouraged me to reflect and consider alternatives that contributed to the quality of my dissertation and my professional growth as an educational leader. Thank you to my committee members, Dr. Teresa Lao, and Dr. Joanna Asadoorian for guiding my dissertation research. A special thank you to Dr. Anthony Kortens who inspired me to become an empowered, caring leader. I appreciated the willingness of my alma mater and former colleagues for sharing their experiences and expertise with me; without them, I could not have explored my research questions.