Student perceptions of group function in a pharmacy Problem-Based Learning course


  • Jennifer Silverthorne School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK


Group dynamics, problem-based learning, education pharmacy undergraduate


In problem-based learning (PBL), student-directed small groups work towards the resolution of a problem facilitated by a tutor. PBL tutors anecdotally describe groups that function poorly despite intervention and student achievement is likely to be compromised in these situations. This study explored pharmacy students‟ perceptions of group function in PBL. Eight face-to-face semi-structured interviews were performed. Themes identified from the transcripts were compared and contrasted. Groups worked well when all participants contributed and when distractions were minimal. Conversely, dissatisfaction arose when individuals did not contribute or appeared less committed, leading to feelings of frustration. Factors influencing pharmacy PBL group function were similar to those in undergraduate medical and nursing literature although the influence of overseas students and a fear of intervening in some situations were additionally identified. Further student and tutor PBL training are recommended and student assessment has since been modified to include reflection on group function. Overseas students‟ experiences and the influence of power within groups are areas for further research.


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How to Cite

Silverthorne, J. (2015). Student perceptions of group function in a pharmacy Problem-Based Learning course. Pharmacy Education, 10. Retrieved from



Research Article