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McMaster Heatlh Science Program-Questions

A photo of banga574 banga574
Hi forum,

I've applied to the McMaster Health Sciences program for the fall of 2011, and I felt that I just wanted a few questions answered. The reasons for my application are obvious; I want to pursue something medical related (i.e. either pharmacy, optometry, or medicine) I'm posting here only because I don't want to email the actual university, for they may just offer me some bs answer in the hopes of goading me...

Here they are,

i) For the year 2010, what was the acceptance rate?
ii) What is the graduation rate?
iii) Why is this program so special? From their website, "McMaster is recognized internationally for expertise in the use of problem-based, self- directed learning and Inquiry "

But couldn't any university simply invent a program, set the admission average super high, limit the acceptance rate so that there is a small group of elite students who are accepted, go on to do professional degrees, thus making the program look exceptional? What is this problem based learning? Isn't learning based on problems? For example, if you're given a math problem, you do the problem, and you learn how to solve similar ones to it. Granted, this isn't a math program, but the concept is similar.

Thanks =)
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3 replies
A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
1. I don't know the exact numbers, but they usually try to accept ~160 students each year and receive 3000+ applicants. If you take the conservative estimate, 160/3000=5% acceptance rate. Each year there are more and more applicants though, it's probably more like 160/3500-4500.

2. Don't know, but I'd say it's fairly high. Nobody really fails out of health sci (all the slackers get weeded out by 2nd year). Some people switch out of the program though.

3. Normal classes: learn theory -> problems
PBL: problems -> learn theory

Yes learning is based on problems, but in most classes you are taught the theory first. For example, in a traditional biochemistry course, you will be taught about proteins, DNA, Krebs cycle etc. In health sci biochemical inquiry, you aren't given lectures. Instead, you are given your choice of biochemical disorder (eg. my group and I chose Lesch-Nyhan syndrome), and every other week we meet with our facilitator and give presentations. Our midterm was a symposium given to half the class. We also had to write 3 critiques and create a Wiki page. There were no lectures and our facilitator didn't stand up in front of the class to teach us anything. Everything we learned about proteins, DNA, how to use Pymol, mutations etc, was from our own research. That is self-directed learning. You can learn a lot or you can learn nothing from the course depending on how much effort you put into the research. Basically you are expected to learn the theory on your own and the facilitators are simply there to guide you on your learning, not tell you what to research. It may seem very backwards and overwhelming at first when you know nothing about the topic and have to start researching but you end up learning much more than in a traditional lecture because you yourself did all the research and was an active participant in your learning rather than a passive listener.
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A photo of banga574 banga574
Thanks for the reply =D

But this leads to another question; if PBL is self-directed learning, and like you said, I'm learning based on my research, what exactly am I paying my tuition for? I mean, couldn't I go to a friend's lab and ask them, "Oh, could I use some of your equipment to find something out?" And, like you said, the facilitators are simply there to guide me...so does that basically mean I can pester them with endless questions? One more thing, does this PBL format only occur in the inquiry class?

I just want to be informed, even though I might not get accepted.

Thanks again :)
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
The facilitators (and BHSc admin/faculty in general) are always open to communication (office hours, LearnLink etc)..I've had lunches with some of my facilitators outside of class time. This "extreme" PBL pretty much only happens during inquiry (1st year inquiry, 2nd year biochem inquiry and 2nd year cell bio), other health sci courses are not structured as so (everyone would fail anatomy & physiology if it was strictly PBL). It appears in a more subtle form in courses that require structure..for example, in anat&phys, you are given lectures but tutorial presentations are PBL-based (you form groups within your tutorial, each group takes on a system eg. MSK/respiratory/endocrine/digestive etc and then you pick a disease, research it, and present it).
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