A starter bibliography about PBL


This selection of papers aims to provide an overview of the underlying educational philosophy and some of the evidence for PBL’s effectiveness, and a flavour of the current debate.

  • Schmidt HG. Foundations of problem-based learning: some explanatory notes. Medical Education 1993; 27: 422-432.
  • Finucane PM, Johnson SM, Prideaux DJ. Problem-based learning: its rationale and efficacy. Medical Journal of Australia 1998; 168: 445-448.
  • Maudsley G. Do we all mean the same thing by ‘problem-based learning’?. A review of the concepts and a formulation of the ground rules. Academic Medicine 1999; 74: 178-185.
  • Rothman AI. Problem-based learning – time to move forward? Medical Education 2000; 34: 509-510.
  • Kaufman DM. Problem-based learning – time to step back? Medical Education 2000; 34: 511-512.
  • Norman GR, Schmidt HG. Effectiveness of problem-based learning curricula: theory, practice and paper darts. Medical Education 2000; 34: 721-728.
  • Norman G. Holding on to the philosophy and keeping the faith. Medical Education 2001; 35: 820-821.
  • Albanese MA, Xakellis GC. Building collegiality: the real value of problem-based learning? Medical Education 2001; 35: 1143.
  • Dammers J, Spencer J, Thomas M. Using real patients in problem-based learning: students’ comments on the value of using real, as opposed to paper cases, in a problem-based learning module in general practice. Medical Education 2001; 35: 27-34.
  • Wood DF. ABC of teaching and learning in medicine: problem-based learning. BMJ 2003; 327: 328-330.
  • Naidoo 5, Dennick R. The implementation and evaluation of problem-based learning on a vocational training scheme for general practice registrars. Education for Primary Care 2003; 14: 178-188.
  • Tamblyn R, Abrahamowicz M, Dauphinee D, Girard N, Barlett G, Grand’Maison P, Brailovsky C. Effect of a community-oriented problem-based learning curriculum on quality of care delivered by graduates: historical cohort comparison study. BMJ 2005; 331: 1002
  • Bowman D, Hughes P. Emotional responses of tutors and students in problem-based learning: lessons for staff development. Medical Education 2005; 39: 145-53.


  • David T, Patel L, Burdett K, Rangachari P. Problem-based learning in medicine. London: Royal Society of Medicine, 1999 (ISBN 1-85315-430-X)
    Very readable, basic and practical text about PBL in medicine (a Manchester and Maastricht collaboration)
  • Felleti G, Boud D (Eds) The challenge of problem-based learning (2nd Ed). Sterling VA: Stylus Publishing, 1997.
    One of the seminal texts on PBL and its applications.


  • http://www.parable.man.ac.uk
    Website of the Manchester undergraduate PBL curriculum. Clear, attractive and easily navigable, which describes the PBL process (Manchester version) in detail, including video clips of various components
  • http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/ubcase.htm
    The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection at the University of Buffalo – a collection of cases (I) which demonstrate a range of approaches
  • http://www.pbli.org/core.htm
    The ‘Problem Based Learning Initiative’ is a group of researchers and teachers based at the University of Southern Illinois (where Howard Barrows, one of the creators of modern PBL, was based). In particular look at ‘Minimum requirements for PBL, which takes a ‘purist’ stance, and the bibliography section.
  • http://www.fhs.mcmaster.ca/pb1s/
    An interesting site hosted by Professor Rangachari of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (co-author of the book ‘Problem-based learning in medicine), looking at PBL in science and liberal arts education. See particularly his personal casebook, and his bibliography
  • http://www.udel.edu/pb1/
    From the University of Delaware, with some sample problems
  • http://meds.queensu.ca/medicine/pb1/pblhome.htm#contents
    A comprehensive site at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario which includes a PBL. Handbook which outlines the steps, how cases are written etc, and a very useful list of PBL websites at:
  • http://meds.queensu.ca/medicine/pb1/pblhomlOhtm
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