Background: Despite widespread use of problem-based learning (PBL) in medic
al schools, no review currently exists on ifs assessment. Given the importa
nce of assessment for any curriculum, a critical review of the literature w
as conducted to explore whether the assessment methods match the philosophi
cal tenets of PBL.
Summary: Articles from MEDLINE and other databases on the assessment of PBL
were reviewed. The following areas require special attention by PBL medica
l schools: enhancement of formal continuous formative assessment; use of th
e context of a working problem to assess knowledge and problem-solving skil
ls; prevention of negative steering effects by a judicious choice of assess
ment content instruments, and timing; and implementation of a longitudinal
and centralized student profile.
Conclusion: Despite the existence of general practical recommendations on a
ssessment in PBL settings, this review reveals a lack of uniformity and con
sensus on the practical application of general principles. Topics for futur
e research are highlighted.