Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 174: How Do I Feel About PBL?

Let me preface this post with a tangent: I swear Southern California weather is out to spite me. The weather starts showing wonderful hints of summer just as dental school midterm week rolls around. Yes, it's 81 degrees outside! Sadly, I'm sitting next to a pile of textbooks and notes, enviously looking outside.

So the $5 million question is this: should I frolic around at the beach, bathed in the warmth of the southern California sunshine or should I sit in the confines of my room cramming for midterms?! 


For Lent this year, I vowed to journal/write every day. (No, I'm not Catholic/Christian/religious. Giving up something for Lent is an annual tradition for me that started in high school. I agreed to participate in Lent to help a friend. Apparently, suffering together for 40 days is much more palatable than suffering alone. 

I figured that I would have more success with this resolution than the "I'm-going-to-give-up-rice-for-Lent-even-though-I'm-Asian-and-rice-is-basically-a-staple-of-my-diet" fiasco from a few years back. Journaling would also give me a little more time each day for introspection and thinking. Going off this daily journaling resolution, I realized that I should probably post on this blog more often. Problem is there's always a positive correlation between the amount of workload on my plate and the level of neglect this blog is subject to. 

Anyhow, my topic for today: Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

I've had the pleasure of conversing with a few applicants who are interviewing/have interviewed at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Naturally, a topic that comes up without fail is "So, how do you feel about PBL?"

My honest opinion? I like PBL. It suits my learning style perfectly. 

Let's be real. Is PBL a perfect system? Absolutely not. 

I have a running list of things I believe could be changed about PBL to make it more effective. In addition, there are many non-constant variables that will dictate each student's PBL experience - the dynamic of the 8-person PBL group, the individual's motivation to learn, the individual's preferred learning style, the facilitator for the case, etc. 

Despite some of its shortcomings, I still prefer PBL over lecture. At USC, we have two-hour lectures on Tuesdays on restorative dentistry/composites and two-hour lectures on Wednesdays on dental morphology and occlusion. 

You know what I do during a 2-hour lecture? 

I listen and take notes for the first 20 minutes. Then, for the next 10 minutes, I attempt to follow the lecture as my attention span dwindles. Around this time, I give in to the futility of the situation. I hit the "record" button on my iPhone recording app and snooze for the duration of lecture. 

So yes, I much prefer PBL to lecture. 

(If the pictures above somehow make me look super studious, I assure you that they grossly exaggerate the extent of my productivity.) 

If there is a lag in blog posts, it's because we start midterm week in exactly 9 days. Naturally, there's a small population of our class who began studying 2 weeks ago. There's also a small population of our class who probably won't start studying until the day before the exam. As for the rest of us, we are simply trying to find our niche in the middle of the bell curve. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013