Blending problem-based learning and peer-led team learning, in an open ended ‘home-grown’ pharmaceutical chemistry case study
Pharmaceutical chemistry, medicinal chemistry and the drug discovery process require experienced practitioners to employ reasoned speculation in generating creative ideas, which can be used to evolve promising molecules into drugs. The ever-evolving world of pharmaceutical chemistry requires university curricula that prepare graduates for their role as designers with the capability of applying complex concepts in pharmaceutical chemistry, thereby improving the decision-making process. Common methods of teaching drug discovery, including the linear nature of the traditional case study model, do not provide a realistic picture of the underlying complexity of the process, nor do they equip students with the appropriate tools for personal sense making and abstraction. In this work, we discuss the creation of an open-ended, nonlinear case study for 3rd year pharmaceutical chemistry students, developed from drug discovery research conducted at Rhodes University. Furthermore, we discuss blending problem based learning (PBL) with peer-led team learning (PLTL) in the context of curriculum transformation, underpinned by the theory of semantic waves, to assist students in the early attainment of abstract concepts and answer questions of contextualisation, personal sense making, relatability, relevance and ultimately the skills for lifelong learning.