The Influence of Two PBL Curricular Contexts on First-Year Students’ Understandings of PBL, Approaches to Learning and Outcomes

  • Tracey Winning
  • Vicki Skinner
  • Angela Kinnell
  • Grant Townsend
  • Gunnel Svensäter
  • Madeleine Rohlin
  • Julia Davies
Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 8)


PBL curricular design aims to support students to think and act as practitioners. Therefore, students need to understand the learning context as it is designed. First-year dental students’ understandings of PBL, learning approaches, and student performance at Malmö University and the University of Adelaide were investigated. Students’ understandings of PBL in both curricula developed over one semester to more closely align with planned intentions. However, several key features of PBL were not noted by students. Malmö students’ PBL experiences were associated with deep approaches while Adelaide students’ PBL experiences were associated with a decrease in deep approaches. Associations between PBL understandings, approaches, and performance were not evident. These findings highlight the complex interactions between PBL contexts and students’ responses and provide some insights into curricular designs that support development of students’ understandings of PBL and associated learning outcomes.


Curricular Design Deep Approach Assessment Task Surface Approach Curricular Context 
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.



First-year dental students, 2007 and 2008, Malmö University and first-year dental students at The University of Adelaide, 2007; Faculty of Odontology, Malmö University, Visiting Research Scientist Program; CORAL, The University of Adelaide; Australian Dental Research Fund; The School of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide; and Dr Toby Hughes for his advice regarding analyses of quantitative data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracey Winning
    • 1
  • Vicki Skinner
    • 1
  • Angela Kinnell
    • 1
  • Grant Townsend
    • 1
  • Gunnel Svensäter
    • 2
  • Madeleine Rohlin
    • 2
  • Julia Davies
    • 2
  1. 1.School of DentistryThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of OdontologyMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden

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