The Challenge of PBL
Stephen Bezruchka, lead facilitator for the first four weeks of PBL
PBL is a powerful method to prepare students for the work environments they will encounter in community based-agencies and for the types of challenges they will address in public health careers. COPHP students invest most of their class and study time in PBL, and through this method, they take charge of their own learning.
We implement PBL through case studies that our COPHP faculty write for every class. To create these cases, we first identify "learning objectives" - what we want students to learn from each case. In class, COPHP students read the case and discover the learning objectives together with their classmates. They pursue these objectives outside of class and post their findings on the web. By the time they graduate from the COPHP program, students have addressed more than 250 learning objectives through more than 50 PBL cases.
PBL is radically different from traditional, didactic learning methods that are based on the lecture and the reading list. Because we keep our PBL groups to eight students or fewer, COPHP students enjoy an extremely favorable faculty-student ratio. But in the PBL classroom, faculty act not as teachers but as facilitators. Students are ultimately responsible for their own learning and that of their classmates, and this relationship encourages strong performance and an admirable work ethic.
But PBL isn't a good fit for everyone. It is important for those interested in applying to first contact the COPHP program office at (206) 685-0888 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage all applicants to visit the University of Washington and attend a PBL class. If a visit isn't possible, please contact us so we can discuss the method with you and put you in touch with students and faculty.