Does PBL deliver constructive collaboration for students in interprofessional tutorial groups?

Endang Lestari*, Renée E Stalmeijer, Doni Widyandana, Albert Scherpbier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Training health professional students in teamwork is recognized as an important step to create interprofessional collaboration in the clinical workplace. Interprofessional problem-based learning (PBL) is one learning approach that has been proposed to provide students with the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to work collaboratively with various health professionals. This study aimed to explore the extent to which students in interprofessional tutorial groups demonstrate constructive collaboration during group discussions.

METHODS: Students (N = 52) from the Medical, Midwifery and Nursing programmes took part in the study. Video-recordings were made of interprofessional PBL discussions (N = 40) in five groups, eight videos per group. Over a period of 4 weeks, participants discussed four scenarios concerned with the reproductive system. The resulting 67 h of video data were analysed qualitatively. To ensure inter-rater reliability, two tutors assessed the students' constructive, collaborative activities using the Maastricht Peer-Activity Rating Scale (MPARS). Finally, to gain an understanding of students' perceptions of their performance and participation in the interprofessional PBL tutorial, we organized three uni-professional focus groups (FGs) at the end of pilot project.

RESULTS: The translated MPARS was reliable (Kappa coefficient 0.01-0.20 and p < 0.05). Students were actively involved in the discussion and contributed to a better understanding regardless of their professional background. Group members from different professions complemented one another in solving learning issues. They were open, feeling free to question and argue from the viewpoint of their own profession, and also understood their strengths and limitations. The statistical test of the scores for constructive and collaborative activities indicated a significant difference between students and the various healthcare professionals, p = 0.000, with medical students scoring highest on both activities. Focus groups further clarified some of the observed dynamics.

CONCLUSION: Implementing interprofessional PBL could motivate students to engage collaboratively in co-constructing knowledge to solve the patients' problem. Medical students scored highest on constructive and collaborative activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number360
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Educational Measurement/statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Students, Medical/psychology
  • Young Adult

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