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Review Article

Problem-Based Learning in Biomechanics: Advantages, Challenges, and Implementation Strategies

[+] Author and Article Information
Alisa Morss Clyne

Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics,
Drexel University,
AEL 170C, 3141 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19104
e-mail: asm67@drexel.edu

Kristen L. Billiar

Biomedical Engineering,
Worcester Polytechnic Institute,
Worcester, MA 01609

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received April 21, 2016; final manuscript received May 9, 2016; published online June 7, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Beth A. Winkelstein.

J Biomech Eng 138(7), 070804 (Jun 07, 2016) (9 pages) Paper No: BIO-16-1167; doi: 10.1115/1.4033671 History: Received April 21, 2016; Revised May 09, 2016

Problem-based learning (PBL) has been shown to be effective in biomedical engineering education, particularly in motivating student learning, increasing knowledge retention, and developing problem solving, communication, and teamwork skills. However, PBL adoption remains limited by real challenges in effective implementation. In this paper, we review the literature on advantages and challenges of PBL and present our own experiences. We also provide practical guidelines for implementing PBL, including two examples of PBL modules from biomechanics courses at two different institutions. Overall, we conclude that the benefits for both professors and students support the use of PBL in biomedical engineering education.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

The VaNTH STAR.Legacy cycle. The STAR.Legacy cycle begins with the challenge. Students generate ideas about how to solve the challenge based on their initial knowledge and then consider expert opinions on the challenge in the multiple perspectives phase. Students use these initial experiences to drive the research and revise phase. Students then test their mettle in an assessment, such as a quiz or problem set. If students discover they need to enhance their knowledge, they can return to the research and revise phase. Finally, the students go public to present their solution to the challenge.

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Fig. 2

Introductory biomechanical engineering course: Pig lung laboratory. Porcine lungs were treated to simulate human disease, where lung B was restricted (stiff, formaldehyde treatment), lung C was healthy (saline), lung D was obstructed (bronchial narrowing and obstruction), and lung E was obstructed (loss of alveolar structure, collagenase treatment). Students recorded the pressure required to inflate each lung to a given volume and used these data to determine which lung simulated which disease.

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Fig. 3

Solid Biomechanics Laboratory: Online learning modules. (a) Video tutorials detailing how to use the equipment safely were provided via a YouTube channel. Inset: QR-code. These QR-codes that link to the videos were posted in the lab for quick smartphone access. (b) Video tutorials for using the software were also posted.

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