THE FATE of the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method used in the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery is now in the hands of the Rector.

Fr. Rector Tamerlane Lana, O.P. said he hopes to resolve the raging debate by the end of the month.

“I’m still looking into the issue and weighing the pros and cons of both sides and thinking of the best way to unite the Faculty once again,” Fr. Lana said in a interview with the Varsitarian. “All I can say now is that I am for innovation that is acceptable to the needs of everybody, not only of a certain group.”

The Rector’s decision would determine whether the PBL method would still be used next school year for the incoming Medicine freshmen.

The PBL method, implemented in June 2001, has divided professors and students, who have grown accustomed to traditional classroom lectures. PBL relies mostly on modular-based teaching where students are practically left to learn by themselves. It involves four phases: conceptualization, research, laboratory skills training, and the correlation phase where professors provide only supplementary lectures.

According to Medicine Faculty Association (MFA) president Dr. Edgardo Orlina, the clamor to revert to the old formula heightened last September.

Medicine Dean Dr. Angeles Tan-Alora, a staunch proponent of the PBL method, allegedly refused to deal with the growing number of complaints, particularly that students were not learning enough.

Two months later, hoping to unite the anti-PBL and pro-PBL factions, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Fr. Jose Antonio Aureada called a faculty convocation where he proposed the creation of a committee to review the PBL curriculum.

Mushing around the bush

Tan-Alora appointed 14 of the 16 committee members. The two other members were fielded by the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) and the student body.

After three months of study, the committee, headed by Dr. Dante Jose Mercado, recommended that the Faculty return to the old curriculum.

“The previous curriculum is a stepping stone toward change,” Mercado said.

However, conflict between the anti-PBL and the pro-PBL factions worsened last month.

USTFU president Dr. Gil Gamila, also a Medicine professor, bared that the Department of Medical Education (MedEd) was meddling and had in fact submitted its own proposal to Fr. Aureada.

“Everybody was just waiting for the decision of the Rector, then (the MedEd) suddenly submitted another curriculum without our knowledge,” Gamila said. “They have subverted the committee’s decision.”

MedEd chair Dr. Aurora Bauzon denied submitting a new curriculum, saying her group merely “planned” for a new one.

Bauzon is identified with the pro-PBL faction.

“We made a plan. It does not identify the content, teaching strategy, and evaluation like curricula,” Bauzon said. “If they saw it as a curriculum, bahala sila.”

She also said what her group did was make another recommendation to serve as a fallback in case the first recommendation is rejected.

Bauzon added that since MedEd was instituted in 1976, it has been tasked to look into possible curricular changes.

Despite the conflicting opinions on the PBL, the warring groups said they only want the best for the University. They also pledged to abide by the Rector’s decision, whatever it may be.

“We’ll wait for the Rector’s decision. If it’s in their (the anti-PBL faction) favor, it will be alright.” Bauzon said. Teodoro Lorenzo A. Fernandez and Elka Krystle R. Requinta

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