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Academic Medicine:
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Self-directed learning in problem-based health sciences education.

Williams, R; Saarinen-Rahikka, H; Norman, G R

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Abstract

PURPOSE. To determine the amounts of time that physiotherapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) students in problem-based curricula spent in non-scheduled and scheduled educational activities, and to determine whether the students increased or decreased the time spent in educational activities as they progressed through the curricula. METHOD. The participants were the 29 PT and 29 OT students in the classes of 1992 in the two-year problem-based educational programs at McMaster University. Each student was randomly assigned to different days of the week to record his or her time utilization for a 24-hour period in each of weeks three, seven, and 11 of the second, fourth, and sixth units of the seven-unit curricula. Weeks 11 of the second and fourth units emphasized clinical education; the other weeks involved academic study only. RESULTS. During the academic weeks, the grand ratios of non-scheduled to scheduled time were 2.8:1 for the PT students and 2.9:1 for the OT students. During the two weeks focusing on clinical education, the ratios were lower: 0.4:1 and 0.2:1 for the PT students, and 1:1 and 0.8:1 for the OT students (the discrepancy between the groups may be due to the fact that the OT students had academic assignments during their clinical placements, while the PT students did not). As the students proceeded through the programs, a general decrease in time spent in educational activities was noted. CONCLUSION. The general decrease in time spent in educational activities as the students progressed through the programs was probably due to their becoming familiar with expectations and their gaining efficiency in using learning resources.

(C) 1995 Association of American Medical Colleges

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