Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 337–347 | Cite as

Do student-defined learning issues increase quality and quantity of individual study?

  • Peter P. J. L. Verkoeijen
  • Remy M. J. P. Rikers
  • Wilco W. R. te Winkel
  • Marianne M. van den  Hurk


An experiment was conducted in the context of a problem-based learning course to investigate the influence of a learning-goal-free problem scenario on the quality and quantity of individual study. In half of the tutorial groups, the problem scenario was constructed in such a way that it provided useful learning issues (goal-specified condition), whereas in the other half of the tutorial groups, the problem scenario did not provide learning issues (goal-free condition). It was demonstrated that students in the goal-free condition read more articles, studied longer, and spent more time reporting the studied literature than their peers in the goal-specified condition. These findings suggest that the use of goal-free problems has a positive effect on the students’ individual study and the extensiveness of the tutorial group meeting.


individual study learning issues problem-based learning tutorial group 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This study was supported by a grant of the Trust fund of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.


  1. Albanese M.A., Mitchell S. (1993). Problem-based learning: A review of literature on its outcomes and implementation issues. Academic Medicine 68:52–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrows H.S. (1985). How to Design a Problem-based Curriculum for the Preclinical Years. New York SpringerGoogle Scholar
  3. Colliver J.A. (2000). Effectiveness of problem-based learning curricula: Research and theory. Academic Medicine 75:259–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Des Marchais J.E. (1999). A Delphi technique to identify and evaluate criteria for constructions of PBL problems. Medical Education 33:504–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dolmans D. (2003). The effectiveness of PBL: The debate continues. Some concerns about the BEME movement. Medical Education 37:1129–1130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dolmans D.H.J.M., De Grave W., Wolfhagen I.H.A.P., Van der Vleuten C.P.M. (2005). Problem-based learning: Future challenges for educational research and practice. Medical Education 39:732–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunlsoky J., Nelson T.O. (1992). Importance of the kind of cue for judgments of learning. (JOL) and the delayed-JOL effect. Memory & Cognition 20:374–380Google Scholar
  8. Hmelo-Silver C.E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn. Educational Psychology Review 16:235–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Moust J.H.C., Schmidt H.G. (1993). Facilitating small-group learning: A comparison of student and staff tutor’s behavior. Instructional Science 22:287–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nelson T.O. (1993). Judgments of learning and the allocation of study time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 122:269–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Norman G. (2003). RCT = results confounded and trivial: The Perils of grand educational experiment. Medical Education 37:582–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Norman G.R. (2004). Beyond PBL. Advances in Health Sciences Education 9:257–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Norman G.R., Schmidt H.G. (1992). The psychological basis of PBL. A review of the evidence. Academic Medicine 67:557–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Norman G.R., Schmidt H.G. (2000). Effectiveness of problem-based learning curricula: Theory, practice and paper darts. Academic Medicine 34:721–728Google Scholar
  15. Schmidt H.G. (1994). Resolving inconsistencies in tutor expertise research: Does lack of structure cause students to seek tutor guidance? Academic Medicine 69:656–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Schmidt H.G., Moust J.H.C. (1995). What makes a tutor effective? A structural equations modelling approach to learning in problem based curricula. Academic Medicine 708–714Google Scholar
  17. Schmidt H.G., Van der Arend A., Moust J.H.C., Kokx I., Boon L. (1993). Influence of tutors’ subject-matter expertise on student effort and achievement in problem-based learning. Academic Medicine 68:784–791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Son L.K., Metcalfe J. (2000). Metacognitive and control strategies in study-time allocation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 26:204–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Soppe M., Schmidt H.G., Bruysten R.J.M.P. (2005). Influence of problem familiarity on learning in a problem-based course. Instructional Science 33:271–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Van den Hurk M.M., Dolmans D.H.J.M., Wolfhagen H.A.P., Muijtjens A.M.M., Van der Vleuten C.P.M. (1999). Impact of individual study on tutorial group discussion. Teaching and Learning in Medicine 11:196–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Van den Hurk M.M., Wolfhagen H.A.P., Dolmans D.H.J.M., Van der Vleuten C.P.M. (1999). Student-generated learning issues: A guide for individual study? Education for Health 12:213–221Google Scholar
  22. Verkoeijen P.P.J.L., Rikers R.M.J.P., Augustus M.I., Schmidt H.G. (2005). A critical look at the discrepancy reduction mechanism of study time allocation. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 17:371–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Visschers-Pleijers A.J.S.F., Dolmans D.H.J.M., Wolfhagen I.H.A.P., Van der Vleuten C.P.M. (2005). Students perspectives on learning-oriented interactions in the tutorial group. Advances in Health Sciences Education 10:23–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter P. J. L. Verkoeijen
    • 1
  • Remy M. J. P. Rikers
    • 1
  • Wilco W. R. te Winkel
    • 1
  • Marianne M. van den  Hurk
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Higher Education Research CenterErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Pedagogical and Educational SciencesRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations