Preparing staff for problem-based learning: Outcomes of a comprehensive faculty development program


Lim, Lisa-Angelique Yuen Lie*
Republic Polytechnic, Singapore (

Choy, Lyn Fung Jeanette
Republic Polytechnic, Singapore (


This study reports an investigation into the impact of a structured foundational staff development program on new academics in their role as classroom tutors in a problem-based learning (PBL) environment. The program aims to provide a systematic framework to share knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for new academics to be competent and confident tutors who can provide valued and valuable learning experiences for students’ learning in a PBL environment. To measure the outcomes of this program, Kirkpatrick’s (1994) framework was adopted, and outcomes were evaluated according to reaction, learning, and behavior. Quantitative data were collected in the form of student feedback scores, tutor confidence, and attitudes toward teaching, while a post-program survey was used to collect qualitative data. The results indicate that the program had brought about gains in knowledge regarding principles and/or strategies of self-directed learning, as well as a detectable change in academics’ orientation towards teaching and learning to a more developmental perspective. Moreover, participants noted that they were able to apply their learning in terms of promoting key student behaviors in PBL, such as collaborative learning. The evaluation suggests that, for the successful implementation of PBL, it is important for a structured foundational training program to address not only the essential elements of PBL, but also the role of the tutor, especially in terms of addressing the teaching beliefs of staff, and helping them to adapt to the constructivist belief system embedded in the PBL environment.

Keywords: faculty development; problem-based learning; teaching perspective; evaluation; higher education



*Corresponding Author