Fostering collaborative knowledge construction in blended problem-based learning (bPBL): A mixed-methods study

  • Cheung, Jason Pui Yin J.P. (PI)
  • Bridges, Susan S. (CoPI)
  • Chen, Weichao W. (CoPI)
  • Ganotice, null (CoPI)
  • Lin, Chin Hsi (CoPI)
  • Tipoe, George L. (CoPI)
  • Zheng, Binbin (CoPI)

Project Details


Medical-school curricula have shifted towards competency-based medical education (CBME) to better prepare future physicians to meet the needs of healthcare in the 21st century. Within CBME, problem-based learning (PBL) has been widely adopted to develop students’ clinical reasoning, problem-solving, teamwork, and self-directed learning, all of which are important lifelong-learning skills for medical students and future doctors. On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed the transition of teaching and learning from in-person to online settings, reshaping the educational landscape. Scholars expect that during the post-pandemic era, blended learning will be widely adopted as a means of embracing the values of traditional face-to-face teaching while taking advantage of the affordances of digital technologies. This study thus proposes a blended problem-based learning (bPBL) model, in which PBL tutorials will still be delivered face-to-face, with the support of learning technologies including video triggers in face-to-face classrooms, a concept-mapping tool used in self-directed learning phases, and learning analytics to better capture student learning activity and provide multifaceted assessment. The effectiveness of bPBL will be examined in three ways. First, students’ collaborative knowledge construction will be explored using discourse analysis, based on analysis of conversational data from PBL tutorials and student-created concept maps, and comparison of such data across PBL and bPBL settings. Second, tutors’ facilitating strategies will be analysed using multimodal discourse analysis, and compared across those settings; and third, mixed-methods social network analysis will be used to longitudinally depict the social dynamics and roles played students and tutors, and how these differ between PBL and bPBL. The association between students’ network centrality and their students’ learning performance will also be explored. This study is expected to have important implications for theory, practice, and faculty development. By examining PBL using innovative methodologies including discourse analysis, social network analysis, concept-mapping analysis, and learning analytics, this study should help us to more clearly and accurately understand the “black box” of PBL learning processes, and whether the bPBL curriculum and assessment model would an improvement upon it when it comes to supporting medical students’ knowledge, skills, and competence development. Moreover, the results of this study can inform the design of PBL professional development programmes, in terms of the specific facilitating strategies they should provide during each stage of a PBL curriculum, whether the PBL tutors are advanced or novice ones.

Effective start/end date1/01/2231/12/24


  • University Grants Committee: $69,890.00


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