McMaster University
Problem-based Learning Print E-mail

The pharmacology courses in the BioPharm Program are taught in a problem-based, self-directed tutorial format which promotes active student involvement. In this learning format, content and process are inextricably linked - WHAT (content) is learned cannot be divorced from HOW (process) it is learned.

The objectives of each course are encapsulated in carefully crafted problems that serve as springboards for learning. Students identify issues and then seek, synthesize and integrate information during discussions with their peers. The venue for these discussions is a tutorial group usually composed of ten students and one faculty member who is the tutor.

Tutors act as facilitators and guides during the discussions - they do not give lectures. The triad of problem-based learning consists of the problems, the students and their tutors.

In problem-based, self-directed learning, students learn to assess their own performance as well as that of their peers. Ongoing evaluation is pivotal in this learning process. The critical evaluation of materials is emphasized, and evaluation procedures have been developed that measure the content as well as process of learning. For more information, see Tutorial Evaluation in a Problem-based Program: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Flexibility, resilience and a critical outlook on information are encouraged in this program. In this way, the educational experience serves to enhance our students' professional and personal pursuits.