Refai, Deema and Thompson, John L. (2011) The Significance of Problem-Based Learning in the Development of Enterprise Skills for Pharmacy Students in UK HEI. In: ISBE Conference 2011 Sustainable Futures: Enterprising Landscapes and Communities, 9-10 November 2011, Sheffield, UK. (Unpublished)

This research focuses on studying enterprise skills in terms of generic transferable employability skills that are valuable for everyone in all contexts. The research is conducted in the pharmacy education context where opinions of pharmacy academics are primarily considered, along with the opinions of pharmacy employers and students. Pharmacy education has undergone a lot of changes during the last two decades that incorporated application of Problem-based Learning (PBL) in the curricula. These changes aimed at enhancing a range of pharmacists’ knowledge and skills in order to improve the profession and meet up with the challenges of the continuous advancements in the complexity and diversity drug therapy. At the same time, there is a wide call nowadays to promote the development of graduates’ enterprise skills during Higher Education (HE); a significant number of employers are calling for the inclusion of more specialized courses in HE that aim at developing students' communication, negotiation, critical thinking, problem solving... etc.
Nevertheless, many may argue that the development of such skills is not the responsibility of HE, or that the curricula in HE are already packed with knowledge making it quite difficult to introduce such extra courses. In this research the development of enterprise skills during HE will be considered through PBL which is seen as a means for embedding enterprise into curricula. PBL is increasingly being applied in HE, and it has been established in literature that such learning could lead to the development of a range of skills in students. But questions remain: are pharmacy schools utilizing PBL for the development of students' enterprise skills? And if so, do the skills developed satisfy the expectations of employers in the marketplace? And what are the barriers facing pharmacy schools in this regard? Through this exploration, the research will evaluate the extent to which developing these skills is a valuable inclusion in an undergraduate pharmacy degree and/or the responsibility of employers in the marketplace.
The research used a qualitative approach where interviews were conducted initially with pharmacy employers in the marketplace followed by interviews with pharmacy academics at pharmacy schools in a number of HEI. Following that, several reflective interviews were conducted again with a number of pharmacy employers and academics to discuss and confirm some findings of the research. The research showed that pharmacy graduates lack some of the essential enterprise skills. Pharmacy academics agree that HE has a great responsibility toward developing student’s enterprise skills. At the same time, significant changes are being introduced into pharmacy education where a lot of efforts are made for the development of students’ enterprise skills. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of understanding of the concept of enterprise education among academics, and despite that pharmacy schools are aiming at developing students’ enterprise skills through PBL and other innovative learning approaches, there are still some weaknesses and gaps in the application of these learning approaches that are likely to limit their benefits in terms of developing students’ enterprise skills. Initial conclusions of this research point out a number of barriers for the development of students’ enterprise skills during HEI. Some of these barriers are internal and can be overcome by HEI; where improvement of the application of PBL can play a major role in this aspect. On the other hand, the research points out some external barriers to the development students’ enterprise skills which cannot be overcome without joint efforts between HEI and the real-world organizations.

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