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In problem-based learning curricular research has focused on the characteristics of good facilitators and how they influence student performance and satisfaction. Far less frequently addressed has been the question of how PBL facilitators influence the small group session activity of students. We investigated the impact that facilitators' encouragement of use or non-use of the Internet would have on the students' use of online information resources.
Survey of student and facilitator perceptions of facilitator behavior and student use of online information resources.
Students who used online information resources rated their facilitators' behavior as more encouraging, while students in groups who didn't use online information resources during problem-based learning small group sessions rated their facilitators' behavior as less encouraging. This result was statistically significant.
Our study supports the role of the facilitator as an influence on medical students in small groups, particularly with respect to facilitator verbal behavior encouraging or discouraging student use of information technology in the problem-based learning small group session.