Problem-based learning in an undergraduate nursing programme: a case study

J Adv Nurs. 1996 Feb;23(2):357-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.1996.tb02679.x.


Over the past 15 years, the 'theory-practice gap' has been a recurrent theme in the nurse education literature. Numerous explanations are put forward for its existence, along with many suggestions as to how the apparent divide can be bridged. A key component of nursing practice is problem-solving but not all nurses are competent at finding suitable solutions to the problems they face in practice settings. Therefore ways of developing learner proficiency in problem-solving is crucial and should occupy a substantial part of teacher activity. One recent educational method for promoting problem-solving skills is problem-based learning [PBL] using the hypothetico-deductive technique. This approach encourages students to work through problem situations, generating hypotheses and testing these against the relevant literature and personal experience. The process itself is seen as the essential element in developing problem-solving skills, so that when the students are qualified they can apply the same methods to patient care. This paper explores the use of the PBL approach with a group of 11 fourth-year undergraduate students. The method employed was a case study design using observation as the main data collection technique. Subsequent analysis focused on: (a) practice; (b) teaching method; (c) knowledge attainment; and (d) the role of the teacher.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods*
  • Faculty, Nursing
  • Humans
  • Logic
  • Medical Records
  • Nursing Education Research / methods
  • Problem Solving*
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Research Design
  • Role