Elaboration during problem-based group discussion: Effects on recall for high and low ability students

Floris M. Van Blankenstein*, Diana H. J. M. Dolmans, Cees P. M. Van der Vleuten, Henk G. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

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2 Citations (Web of Science)


Although elaboration has been investigated frequently, there is little evidence for the beneficial effect of elaboration in problem-based learning. A controlled experiment tested the effect of elaboration during problem-based discussion on recall. Sixty-seven students observed a video-recorded, problem-based discussion. In one experimental condition, a tutor in the video encouraged participants to elaborate by asking elaborative questions. In a second condition, the tutor asked superficial questions. After the discussion, all participants studied a text with relevant new information. Elaborative questions had no significant effect on recall of idea units from the text, p = .39, eta(2) = .01. High-ability students outperformed low-ability students, p = .04, eta(2) = .07, but this effect did not interact with the experimental treatment, p = .22, eta(2) = .02. Suggestions for further research are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-672
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Problem-based learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Tutoring
  • Elaboration
  • Recall
  • Higher Education

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