Gettting on with each other: PBL group dynamics and function



Publication Details

Skinner, V., Braunack-Mayer, A. J. & Winning, T. J. (2012). Gettting on with each other: PBL group dynamics and function. In S. Bridges, C. McGrath & T. Whitehill (Eds.), Problem-Based Learning in Clinical Education: The Next Generation (pp. 189-205). United States: Springer.


Problem-based learning (PBL) group dynamics are important because they underpin the collaborative learning and teamwork that prepares students for clinical practice. The constructivist and collaborative theoretical foundations of PBL provide criteria for effective group dynamics. However, research has demonstrated that PBL group dynamics are often inconsistent with the theoretical ideal of a professional learning team. This chapter reports on an ethnographic study of PBL group dynamics in two dental schools, in Australia and Ireland. The results show the PBL group was predominantly a social unit that subsequently became a work unit. Students operated with understandings of group dynamics that were inconsistent with the theoretical principles of PBL. The authors conclude that students need explicit support to develop professional working relationships and teams.

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