Although published reports describe benefits to students of learning in a problem-based, student-centered environment, questions have persisted about the excessive faculty time commitments associated with the implementation of PBL pedagogy. The argument has been put forward that the excessive faculty costs of such a curriculum cannot be justified based upon the potential benefits to students. However, the magnitude of the faculty time commitment to a PBL curriculum to support the aforementioned argument is not clear to us and we suspect that it is also equally unclear to individuals charged with making resource decisions supporting the educational efforts of the institution. Therefore, to evaluate this cost - benefit question, we analyzed the actual basic science faculty time commitment in a hybrid PBL curriculum during the first phase 18 months of undergraduate medical education. The results of this analysis do demonstrate an increase in faculty time commitments but do not support the argument that PBL pedagogy is excessively costly in terms of faculty time. For the year analyzed in this report, basic science faculty members contributed on average of 27.4 hours to the instruction of medical students. The results of the analysis did show significant contributions (57% of instructional time) by the clinical faculty during the initial 18 months of medical school. In addition, the data revealed a four-fold difference between time commitments of the four basic science departments. We conclude that a PBL curriculum does not place unreasonable demands on the time of basic science faculty. The demands on clinical faculty, in the context of their other commitments, could not be evaluated. Moreover, this type of analysis provides a tool that can be used to make faculty resource allocation decisions fairly
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