PBL – guidance on producing trigger material

Trigger material…

  • should grab the learners’ attention. There are likely to be a range of interests in the group, so how are you going to grab them all? (or at least most of them)
  • should be at a level with, and relate to, learners’ current level of experience, knowledge and understanding
  • should be designed to stimulate questions through appropriate cues, so that learners can identify areas for study relevant to the desired learning outcomes
  • should not usually provide answers within the material or be solvable at first glance, or with the information given – the whole idea is that students go off to research them. You may wish to provide them with references and/or material to help this, however
  • should be authentic/real/believable (although not necessarily a real clinical case)
  • will model values, orientation, context (the ‘hidden curriculum”): So check that – the framework, language and tone of the material reflect what you want to model
  • should be given in smallish chunks – consider staged release of material if there is a lot (but note that long, complicated trigger material may reflect teacher anxiety!)
  • should be ‘to the point’, since learners need clues about what is expected; extraneous material may be unhelpful and distracting
  • hopefully shouldn’t take too much time to produce and ideally should be re-usable
  • should be cleared for confidentiality/consent sought if based on real cases

Further reading

  • Glick TH, Armstrong EG. Crafting cases for problem-based learning: experience in a neuroscience course. Medical Education 1996; 30: 24-30.
  • Dolmans DJHM, Snellen-Balendong H, Wolf hagen IHAP, van der Vleuten CPM. Seven principles of effective case design for a problem-based curriculum. Medical Teacher 1997; 19: 185-89.

Bibliography for PBL

en English