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AMEA conference: Debate on PBL International Medical University Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia 2011-0325. “ Asian students are NOT suitable for PBL ”. Prof. David C.Y. Kwan, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan. What is a “typical” Asian student ?.

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asian students are not suitable for pbl
AMEA conference: Debate on PBL

International Medical University

Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia


“Asianstudents are NOTsuitablefor PBL”

Prof. David C.Y. Kwan,

China Medical University,

Taichung, Taiwan

what is a typical asian student
What is a “typical” Asianstudent?
  • Intelligent, but not curious enough
  • Willing, but lack self-confident
  • Obedient, and very submissive
  • Observant, but reluctant to act
  • Compassionate, but too shy to express
  • Good manual skills, but poor critical thinking
  • Quiet judge, but poor assessor
  • Active follower, uncomfortable to lead

These traits can also be found in Asianteachers, because some students will become teachers under the same cultural climate

what the heck is pbl
What the heck is PBL?

PBL is not a teaching method, it is a learning philosophy!

5S-definitions based on pedagogic concept

  • Self-directed learning
  • Student-centered learning
  • Small-group learning
  • Scenario-based learning
  • Subject-integration learning

P-B-Ldefinitions based on subject integration

  • Population – people, family, community, global
  • Behavior – belief, culture, habits, moral, ethics
  • Life/living – life sciences, knowledge and skills

Most Asian universities adopted hybrid-PBL with a large traditional component

suggesting they have strong skepticism against its suitability for their students

what does it mean not suitable
What does it mean “not suitable”?
  • Do their learning styles fit the purpose of PBL?
  • Do they prefer attending lectures over PBL as their learning platform?
  • Does PBL take up too much students’ time?
  • Do they complain that PBL does not help them learned much core knowledge systematically ?
  • Do they complain spending too much time on the preparation for PBL tutorials?
  • Do they often comment that their tutors are not well prepared to meet their needs in PBL?
  • Do they object to expending their current hybrid-PBL to full PBL curriculum?
  • Are they vocal enough without being prompted?
my key arguments




My key arguments
  • Asianstudents’learning habits do not match the PBL pedagogic goals
  • Asianteachershave not acquired proper mind-set, skills or devotion to help Asian students prepare for PBL
  • Asian university admini-strators resist to help enhance student ability with true PBL culture, instead, they alter PBL to fit their students

Academic culture

Learning attitudes

in conclusion it is very clear that
In conclusion, it is very clear that……

Asian students are NOTsuitable for PBL,

i.e., the distorted form of hybrid-PBL

Yet, “the authentic form of PBLis suitable and good for willing Asian students”

how to make asian students suitable for pbl
How to make Asian students suitable for PBL?
  • Never compromise PBL spirits to fit the students
  • Admit students who are active and potentially adaptable & adjustable to PBL environment
  • Persuade your education administrator to buy in PBL and set up rewarding mechanisms
  • Adequately, effectively & regularly train your teachers as PBL tutors and case-writers
  • Have faith on the PBL philosophy and not to mistaken PBL as just another pedagogic method
  • Align your assessment of student performance with PBL objectives