gms | German Medical Science

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007

17. bis 21.09.2007, Augsburg

Continued multi-disciplinary project-based learning (CM-PBL) in medical informatics: experiences from a five-years project

Meeting Abstract

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  • Christa Weßel - Institut für Medizinische Informatik, Aachen
  • Cord Spreckelsen - Institut für Medizinische Informatik, Aachen

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007. Augsburg, 17.-21.09.2007. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2007. Doc07gmds453

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 6, 2007

© 2007 Weßel et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Problem and project based learning represent approved methods to train students, graduates and post-graduates in scientific and other professional skills [1], [2], [3]. For Medical Informatics with its multi-disciplinary research and development PBL is a promising training approach.

PBL is generally tailored to one or two term schedules [4]. The students are trained on realistic scenarios in a broader context. We implemented Continued Multi-disciplinary Project Based Learning (CM-PBL) [5] with a long-term research project on a web-based information system on hospitals as scenario for the realistic context [6]. Experiences with project work in an international consulting company, literature work, training-courses in PBL and last not least the continued cooperation of the students and the teachers sustained the development of CM-PBL.

The students developed a project related application or module, or explored or evaluated a sub-project. A senior scientist was the research project manager and the teacher of the students. A second senior scientist cooperated as co-teacher. Each student attended the weekly team meetings and followed a fixed sequence of individual meetings with the teachers and hearings with group feedback. The team consisted up to 14 active members at a time coming from informatics, medicine, economics, and public health. The well communicated team policy and a data security and privacy concept fostered the team identity.

From April 2002 until April 2007 thirty students successfully finished their work: 16 student’s research projects in medical informatics, 4 diploma theses in computer science, 4 (plus 2 nearly finished) PhD theses in medicine and 4 trainee's projects. Six students abandoned their work due to time management problems or an illness.

Formative assessment and evaluation showed a considerable improvement of the students’ skills and a high participant satisfaction. The comparison of CM-PBL with other methods will have to investigate resources, teachers' qualifications and participants' outcome.


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