Teaching Development Grants
Completed TDG Projects

Diverse Learning Experience

Journal-based Learning, Continuing on From PBL – a Pilot Study


Objective: A Journal-Based Learning (JBL) programme was introduced to offer a new learning experience to students as well as to prepare them for continuing personal development.

Materials and Methods: A baseline evaluation of knowledge relating to key research terms was conducted on 52 final year BDS students. 11 weekly seminars were conducted from 8 clinical disciplines driven by a reading list of 2-5 journal articles along with a series of “guidance” questions relating to research and content knowledge aspects of each paper to focus their reading and learning. Seminars were facilitated by discipline experts with supporting notes.  An exit-test for the programme was conducted with 4 repeated questions from the baseline assessment.  A systematic marking scheme was used and the results analyzed.  A focus group was run to collect feedback regarding students’ views and experiences on the JBL experience.

Findings: Students showed significant improvements (p < 0.05) over the baseline score.  The mean score raised from 3.5 to 11.5 in the repeated questions.  The focus group revealed that students had learnt new information about journal classification, evidence level determination, new research terms and structure of research papers.  From the first four years of PBL, students recognized the importance of learning from research papers since year 1.  However, JBL gave them a deeper understanding of research and critical appraisal skills.

Implications: JBL provided final year students the opportunity to learn significantly more about dental research, terminologies, paper structure, critical analysis and content knowledge through active-learning small group seminars.

Principal Investigator

Dr. M.G. Botelho, Faculty of DentistryContact

Project level

University-level project

Project Completion

September 2011


  1. Scholarly outputs:
    • Botelho M.G., Lo E.C.M., Bridges S.M., McGrath C.P.J. and Yiu C.K.Y., Journal-Based Learning, a new learning experience building on PBL at HKU, European Journal of Dental Education, 2012;17: e120-e125
    • Botelho M.G., Lo E.C.M., Dyson J.E., Bridges S.M., McGrath C.P.J. and Yiu C.K.Y., A new final year learning experience-journal based learning and fundamentals of dental research-a pilot programme, 6th International Conference on PBL in Dentistry, Hong Kong, 13-15 November 2009. p.26
  2. A new small-group Journal Based Learning programme conducted for final year students has been developed and refined and is in its 4th year.
  3. Exposure of students to a novel learning approach outside of their PBL learning experiences which has allowed them to learn current and clinically relevant materials from research publications from the main Dental Faculty Clinical Disciplines.
  4. Exposure of students to a range of different research journal publications and by this process gained knowledge on principles of research and terminologies used therein.  Click here to view the document on “Fundamentals of Research – Student Learning Objectives”.
  5. The creation of a learning outcomes document based on the underlying agenda of “understanding principles of dental research” – i.e. relating to the structure of different research papers and the terminologies therein as well as an introduction to research statistical terms which has been created for student reference.
  6. A new assessment task was conducted at the end of the course to determine students’ knowledge on principles of research and research terminologies based on the courses learning outcomes.
  7. A resource bank of dental journal articles has been developed including student guidance questions and facilitator notes for the seminar series from each of the clinical disciplines.  Click here to view the “Reading list for BDS V JBL and Fundamental of Dental Research Seminar for Oral Rehabilitation”.