Understanding the effects of time on collaborative learning processes in problem based learning: a mixed methods study

J. Hommes*, P. van den Bossche, W. Grave, G. Bos, L. Schuwirth, A. Scherpbier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Web of Science)


Little is known how time influences collaborative learning groups in medical education. Therefore a thorough exploration of the development of learning processes over time was undertaken in an undergraduate PBL curriculum over 18 months. A mixed-methods triangulation design was used. First, the quantitative study measured how various learning processes developed within and over three periods in the first 1,5 study years of an undergraduate curriculum. Next, a qualitative study using semi-structured individual interviews focused on detailed development of group processes driving collaborative learning during one period in seven tutorial groups. The hierarchic multilevel analyses of the quantitative data showed that a varying combination of group processes developed within and over the three observed periods. The qualitative study illustrated development in psychological safety, interdependence, potency, group learning behaviour, social and task cohesion. Two new processes emerged: 'transactive memory' and 'convergence in mental models'. The results indicate that groups are dynamic social systems with numerous contextual influences. Future research should thus include time as an important influence on collaborative learning. Practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-563
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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