Should we choose between problem-based learning and team-based learning? No, combine the best of both worlds!

Diana Dolmans*, Larry Michaelsen, Jeroen Van Merrienboer, Cees van der Vleuten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Web of Science)
113 Downloads (Pure)


Background: To meet changes in society and health care, medical curricula require continuous improvement. A relatively new development in medical education is team-based learning (TBL). In the previous century, problem-based learning (PBL) emerged as an exciting new method. Aims: What are the similarities and differences between PBL and TBL? How do both approaches fit with current design principles? How might PBL and TBL benefit from each other's unique strengths? Methods: Analysis of the literature. Results: The overall similarities between PBL and TBL relate to the use of professionally relevant problems and small group learning, both fitting well with current instructional design principles. The main difference is that one teacher in TBL can run twenty or even more study teams, whereas in PBL each small group is run by one teacher. Conclusion: In this paper we advocate for a joining of forces. By combining elements of PBL and TBL, we could create varied instructional approaches that are in keeping with current instructional design principles, thereby combining the best of both worlds to optimize student learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-359
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Cite this