Understanding the effects of time on collaborative learning processes in problem based learning: a mixed methods study

Juliette Hommes, Peter Van den Bossche, Willem Grave, Gerard Bos, Lambertus Schuwirth, Albert Scherpbier

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    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Little is known how time influences collaborative learning groups in medical education. Therefore a thorough exploration of the development of learning processes over time was undertaken in an undergraduate PBL curriculum over 18 months. A mixed-methods triangulation design was used. First, the quantitative study measured how various learning processes developed within and over three periods in the first 1,5 study years of an undergraduate curriculum. Next, a qualitative study using semi-structured individual interviews focused on detailed development of group processes driving collaborative learning during one period in seven tutorial groups. The hierarchic multilevel analyses of the quantitative data showed that a varying combination of group processes developed within and over the three observed periods. The qualitative study illustrated development in psychological safety, interdependence, potency, group learning behaviour, social and task cohesion. Two new processes emerged: ‘transactive memory’ and ‘convergence in mental models’. The results indicate that groups are dynamic social systems with numerous contextual influences. Future research should thus include time as an important influence on collaborative learning. Practical implications are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)541-563
    Number of pages23
    JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Collaborative learning
    • Group development
    • Group dynamics
    • Group process
    • Time


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