Active Learning

What is Active Learning?

Scientific research shows that students learn and perform better in an environment where they're asked to engage and apply knowledge instead of sit passively and listen. We’ve taken that evidence to heart and woven it into a curriculum rich with dynamic, innovative programming. From flipped classrooms featuring clicker-based responses and case studies, to collaborative, team-based learning and problem-solving.

Why are we eliminating lectures at the Larner College of Medicine?

Compared to lecturing, active learning significantly increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics (Freeman, Scott, et al., 2014) and there is substantial evidence that Active Learning offers many advantages in health sciences education.  These advantages are summarized in the table below. 

ModalityTraditional LecturesActive Learning
Learner PreparationLessMore
EngagementLessMore
Information DeliveryMore Less
Higher Order LearningLessMore
Learning OutcomesLessMore
Learner SatisfactionVariableVariable

While a substantial body of evidence already documents learning gains for all students who participate in active learning, newer research indicates that active learning approaches can significantly improve learning for some subgroups of learners, especially women (Lorenzo, Crouch and Mazur, 2006) and underrepresented minority students (Eddy and Hogan, 2014).



What Active Learning methods will replace lectures at the Larner College of Medicine?

Active learning pedagogy emphasizes activities and assessments that promote higher-order cognitive skills, such as application, analysis, synthesis, and creation of knowledge (Jeffries, Huggett and Szarek, in press; Huggett and Jeffries, 2015). Examples of active learning approaches include Team Based Learning (TBL); Problem-Based Learning (PBL); simulations; flipped classroom activities; and in-class activities, e.g., Think-Pair-Share, debate, case discussions (Jeffries and Huggett, 2014).

Faculty at the Larner College of Medicine already use multiple Active Learning approaches in their courses and clerkships. Two subcommittees of a curriculum review taskforce are currently exploring the approaches that are best-suited for the medical student curriculum. The subcommittees’ members include faculty, medical students, curriculum staff, administrators, librarians, and IT staff.  Their recommendations, along with guidance for faculty development and optimal implementation of each active learning approach, will be reviewed by Larner College of Medicine leadership committees in Summer 2017.



How will we know if we are successful?

Educational scholarship is essential to evaluating our curricular outcomes. An Evaluation and Research group is already planning a research agenda to ensure we address key questions, disseminate the evidence, and share curricular resources that can assist other health sciences schools and programs.


Engaging students in learning

  1. Preparation: material such as an article, chapter, book, video.
  2. Class time can be spent as follows:

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Instructor leading a flipped classroom.

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Student responding to assessment question via clicker.

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Response results on screen.

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Collaborative working team.

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Randomly selecting case study team.

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Student team responding to case study.


Watch Active Learning Videos

Example: Diagnosis Appendicitis? 

Example Diagnosis

How Instructors Approach Active Learning


How instructors approach active learning