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Problem Based Learning

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The philosophy behind Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is simple: the best way to learn a new concept is to experience it firsthand. At Clarkson, we introduce Doctor of Physical Therapy students to a wide variety of clinical scenarios, some involving “paper patients” and some with real clients. Textbook knowledge is important, but the goal of PBL is to stimulate the development of real-world problem-solving skills. Students are trained to ask three questions: “What do I know?” “What don’t I know?” and “How will I find the answer?”

Students in a PBL learning environment:

  • Know where to find answers, by listening closely to the patient and by searching peer-reviewed journals for the latest and best information.
  • Ask more and better questions. Their mental framework is higher-level and contextual and reflects better preparation. PBL students can easily frame questions to clarify clinical dilemmas.
  • Develop lifelong learning skills that allow them to seek answers independently.
  • Expect and integrate ongoing feedback to improve their professional skills.
  • Practice evaluation and intervention strategies to experience what patients experience and develop competency under the capable supervision of physical therapists.
  • See the patient in a broader context and consider the economic and cultural issues that influence intervention and care.