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PBL Resources - Books

Klamen and Williams (2010)

The Diagnosis and Treatment of the Failing Student (Standardized Patient Exam Failures), by Debra L. Klamen and Reed G. Williams(2010)169 pages, paper bound.

This book is designed for those who work with students in a health care professional field, or residents in any specialty, who are required to take, and pass, standardized patient examinations.  Invariably, those who work with such students or residents will find themselves in a position of having a failure of the standardized patient examination, and need to remediate the failing student(s) or resident(s).  It is for you that this book is written.
The authors’ prior publications (see below) have been used extensively by those interested in designing valid and reliable standardized patient examinations, as well as those interested in improving their clinical competency evaluations in general.  This book is based on the authors’ continuing work and experience with clinical competency examinations, as well as a multitude of other experts in the field. 
Partial Reference list:

  1. Williams RG, Klamen DL, Hoffman RM. Medical student acquisition of clinical working knowledge. Teach Learn Med. 2008 Jan-Mar;20(1):5-10

  2. Williams RG, Dunnington GL, Klamen DL. Forecasting residents’ performance – partly cloudy. Acad Med. 2005 May;80(5):415-22.

  3. Williams RG, Dunnington GL. Prognostic value of resident clinical performance ratings.  J Am Coll Surg. 2004 Oct;199(4):620-7.

  4. Williams RG. Have standardized patient examinations stood the test of time and experience? Teach Learn Med. 2004 Spring;16(2):215-22.

  5. Williams RG, Klamen DL, McGaghie WC. Cognitive, social and environmental sources of bias in clinical performance ratings. Teach Learn Med. 2003 Fall;15(4):270-92.

Individual chapters deal with many aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of failing students on standardized patient examinations such as: general approaches to diagnosing standardized patient examination performance problems, use of diagnostic procedures in the approach to the failing student, disorders of information gathering, disorders of reasoning/interpretation/differential diagnosis, disorders of management/treatment planning, disorders of documentation/presentation, disorders of interpersonal and communication skills with patients, disorders of professionalism with colleagues/teams, and disorders of the management of the self.   A special second section of the book contains 3 case reports of student failures, in which three student cases are presented to allow the reader an opportunity to practice the skills learned from reading the book.  An Appendix gives a list of all diagnoses discussed throughout the book, compiled in a table for easy reference.
Click here for an excerpt from the book


Barrows et al. (2010)



Principles and Practice of aPBL, by Howard S. Barrows and Wee Keng Neo; Lyndia (revised 2010) 153 pages, paper bound.

The Authentic Problem-Based Learning (aPBL) approach is a challenging, motivating, learner-centered educational method that stimulates learners to both acquire and apply the knowledge and skills they need including problem-solving, self-directed learning and team skills, and to be responsible for their own continuing education. This book has been designed to be useful to teachers in any discipline, subject area, or profession. Click here for an excerpt from the book

Barrows (2000)

Problem-Based Learning Applied to Medical Education, by Howard S. Barrows (2000) 147 pages, paper bound.

This book is designed for those medical teachers that either wish to consider problem-based learning as an educational method, have decided on problem-based learning and need guidelines for its design and development, or are involved in a problem-based learning curriculum and want to consider ways for improving their curriculum.  

The author’s prior books, Problem-Based Learning: An Approach to Medical Education co-authored with Robyn Tamblyn (1980) and How to Design a Problem-Based Curriculum for the Preclinical Years (1985) have been used extensively over the years by teachers both in and out of medical education interested in or involved in problem-based learning. Now that more has been learned about problem-based learning through the experience of many additional medical schools that have undertaken the method and from an increasing number of studies related to problem-based learning these books are out-of-date. Changes in this book are also based on the author’s continuing work and experience with problem-based learning as a teacher and as an educational consultant.

Individual chapters deal with many aspects of problem-based learning such as: objectives, problem and curriculum design, integrating problem-based learning with other learning methods, choosing problems, assessment, applying problem-based learning to clerkships, variables that can alter the effectiveness of problem-based learning, converting to problem-based learning, criteria for analyzing a problem-based learning curriculum and the evaluation of problem-based learning as an instructional method.  Although designed primarily for teachers in medical schools, this book offers much of value for teachers in other disciplines.
Click here for an excerpt from the book




Stimulated Recall (Personalized Assessment of Clinical Reasoning), by Howard S. Barrows (2000) 31 pages, paper bound.

The Stimulated Recall technique has been used as a research tool for analyzing the clinical reasoning process of physicians. Experience has shown that it is a powerful tool for analyzing the developing clinical reasoning skills of medical students and residents. It can also analyze the knowledge used in working with the patient’s problem. Experience has shown it to be a valuable tool in the detailed assessment of individual students, residents or physicians suspected of having problems or inadequacies in their clinical REASONING. The results of the Stimulated Recall can be used to design approaches to correct deficiencies that are uncovered. The book is written by a physician who has used this technique extensively both in research and in medical education. It provides the information needed to set up and carry out the technique.Click here for an excerpt from the book




Training Standardized Patients to Have Physical Findings, by Howard S. Barrows (1999) 32 pages, paper bound.

This handbook is written for standardized patient (SP) trainers who would like to train their SPs to have physical signs. The author shares an experience gained in over 30 years of training standardized patients. He carefully takes the clinician and non-clinician alike through the steps necessary to train standardized patients in over 40 physical findings.
Click here for an excerpt from the book




What Your Tutor May Never Tell You, by Howard S. Barrows (1996) 45 pages paper bound.

This is a landmark book on problem-based learning as it is written specifically for medical students. In problem-based learning students assume responsibility for their own education. What they can do to maximize on the opportunities the method presents for their own learning and development. This book allows medical students to understand every step in problem-based learning and how to make the process more profitable in providing them with the knowledge and skills needed as physicians. Students in other disciplines will also find it useful. Click here for an excerpt from the book




The Tutorial Process, by Howard S. Barrows (revised 1992) 70 pages, paper bound.

This is a companion volume to Problem-Based Learning. This popular, small booklet covers the basics of the PBL tutorial process and describes the tutorial skills needed at every phase of the process.
Click here for an excerpt from the book