Problem-based learning: Ancient Chinese educational philosophy reflected in a modern educational methodology

Wai Man Lee, Kam Yuet Wong, Esther S.B. Mok

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Problem-based learning (PBL) has been widely adopted as a strategy by nurse educators all over the world. Many studies have been carried out to examine its process and outcomes. There are few studies discussing the relevance of PBL to students with different cultural background. This study reports the experiences of Chinese students in Hong Kong using PBL and explores if their experiences were compatible with the educational philosophy documented in traditional Chinese literature. The phenomenological approach was used in the treatment of data. The informants were students enrolled in the post-registration nursing degree programme at a university in Hong Kong during 1997-1998. A total of 94 journals were included in the analysis. Seven main themes emerged from the phenomenological analysis. They were the integration of knowing and doing, critical reflection and debate, individuality of learning, self -motivated learning, critical inquiry and independent thinking, timeliness of instruction and cooperative learning. This study provides evidence to show that PBL is an approach that is compatible with the Chinese way of learning. The result of this study shows that aspects of the modern PBL process harken back to an ancient Chinese learning philosophy that underpins Chinese learning today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Basic philosophy of Chinese education
  • Problem-based teaching and learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education


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