Active learning (AL)/problem-based learning (PBL) has been shown to improve the reasoning, communication and teamwork skills of students. However, the success of AL/PBL tends to vary depending on local context and culture. We undertook a study to assess pharmacy students’ current experience, expectations and level of understanding of AL/PBL. A focus group discussion involving ten Year-4 pharmacy students was conducted in Malaysia. Three key themes emerged: expectations of the AL/PBL session, tutor characteristics and cultural issues. The students expected that the AL/PBL session should help them apply their knowledge in real-life clinical situations. They also felt that the personality of the tutor was the key to the success of AL/PBL, and that Asians were more hesitant to participate in AL/PBL sessions. AL/PBL has the potential to be effective provided the sessions are carefully planned, and tutors are well trained in the context of local culture.
- active learning
- problem-based learning