Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Problem-Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) utilizes clinical cases to stimulate inquiry, critical thinking and knowledge application/integration related to the sciences (biological, behavioral and social) basic to medicine. Through this active, collaborative, case-based learning process students acquire a deeper understanding of the principles of medicine but more importantly acquire the skills necessary for life-long learning.

The goals of PBL are for students to:

Each PBL group has 6-9 students and a faculty facilitator. Case information is disclosed progressively across two or more sessions for each case. This process mimics the manner in which a practicing physician obtains data from a patient. PBL has developed a similar format, allowing students to develop progressive learning issues and hypotheses as the additional pieces of information about a patient are disclosed to the student. The students identify learning issues and information needs and assign learning tasks among the group. The students discuss their findings at the next session and review the case in light of their learning.

Richard Dsida
Richard Dsida, MD
PBL Co-Director

Lisa VanWagner
Lisa VanWagner, MD/MSc
PBL Co-Director

Jessica Voth
Jessica Voth, MS
PBL Coordinator