Sounds of Silence: Examining Silence in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in Asia

Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 8)


Problem-based learning (PBL) has increasingly been employed as a teaching and learning approach in higher education, particularly in medicine and dentistry. In multilingual and multicultural contexts such as English Medium of Instruction (EMI) universities in Asia, silence has been identified as one characteristic to portray Asian students. However, no in-depth qualitative work has been conducted to date on students’ silence in PBL tutorials in this context. This chapter examines students’ silence in spoken English interaction in PBL tutorials in an EMI university in Asia. A variety of means, including post-survey interviews, observations, audiovisual recording, and stimulated recall interviews are used to investigate one group of PBL students’ silence in interaction. Findings indicate students’ silence in spoken English interaction is not only a means of verbal disengagement within the group learning process but also a productive resource, a collaborative practice, a platform of handling conflicting understandings, and a signal of shifting power relations. Such a study may provide higher education teaching staff and education policy makers with useful information about small-group interaction among diverse learners in an EMI context.


Chinese Student Productive Resource Asian Student Collaborative Practice Critical Discourse Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank the reviewers and the editors, for reading and commenting on earlier versions of this chapter. I also appreciate the cooperation and contribution of all participants in my study, without whom none of this would have been possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun Jin
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong

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