Monday, 9 May 2016

In the fishbowl !

A long tradition of Problem Based Learning (PBL)  Tutor training at PAHS has included my demonstrating how a PBL tutorial works in front of a crowd of onlookers.  To do that you get 5 brave volunteer workshop Faculty participants to take the part of “students” by actually going through a real PBL case with me as their PBL Tutor.  Then you surround that group of 6 people with two or three layers of onlookers-hence the fishbowl analogy.  The final touch is to do all of that in a near airless room on a hot day (the last part is optional).

What has always amazed me is how well this actually works.  What starts out feeling horribly contrived- how can you ignore that you are being watched by a room full of people- swiftly begins to take on a life of it’s own.  The “faculty students” get drawn into the PBL paper case and begin to problem solve for real.  Their discussion gets focused and purposeful and the onlookers fade into the background. 

(..of course it was a cardio case!!)

It is only after an hour when I call an end to the discussion that their focus returns to the whole room and away from the small PBL microcosm that was created.

There is a reason I demonstrate PBL rather than describe it.  A PBL discussion group is active learning personified.  To me there would be something inherently wrong in merely describing PBL (with a Powerpoint- the epitome of passive learning) when you could actively involve the participants in a live demonstration.  Not only is it more engaging to watch, after the faculty volunteers finish the PBL case, they can be called upon to reflect on what the experience was like as a learner.

To top off the day we enlisted the UBC Health Trek Students (1 year veterans of small group learning at UBC), to go through a PBL case, while several Nepali Tutor trainees acted as their tutor.  This time the UBC students were in the fishbowl and we tag-teamed in a string of volunteer tutors. 
Health Trek students in the fishbowl!

We finished off the formal session with a Q&A between all the participants, myself and the UBC students.  At the end Prasil  (Basic Sciences Coordinator) said some closing words, and Mili Joshi (CV Block Director and Member Secretary of the Faculty Development Committee) presented all the attendees with a certificate of attendance.  

2016 PBL Tutor Training Workshop Attendees with their certificates.

They also surprised me with a lovely Certificate of Appreciation!

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