In 1995 a problem-based approach was implemented within the profession-specific subjects in the curriculum, namely Science of Occupation and Occupational Therapy. This method of teaching actively involves students in discovering the knowledge base of the profession, and helps prepare them to solve the problems they will encounter during fieldwork. Cooperative learning is the foundation of PBL and prepares students for multidisciplinary teamwork in their careers. Group problem-solving tutorials, feedback and inquiry seminars, fieldwork and skills laboratories are used in place of formal didactic lectures. Under guidance of a tutor, students actively direct the setting of their own learning objectives and find solutions within a framework of prescribed course objectives. Multiple resources - including both written materials and expert contact people - are made available to help the students achieve this. Problem scenarios are carefully constructed, based on real-life situations. They are graded to allow the students to sequentially develop the knowledge and skills necessary for clinical competence.
Through PBL, the Wits Department of Occupational Therapy aims to help create lifelong learners and problem-solvers, producing graduates who can contribute meaningfully to the development of health in South Africa. Recognising that PBL can be challenging to those from a traditional passive-learning school background, the Department offers a compulsory introductory course to PBL at the beginning of the first year of study.