Students may also balk about being forced to attend class, being pressured by their peers so that group performance is up to snuff, and, since lectures tend to be a guide to what’s on the test, being potentially responsible for even more information than they would have been in a lecture. “The advantage is, when you look at the data, students report that it’s actually easier to study for the test when there’s active learning involved, because they remember more material,” Dr. Jeffries said.
Explore this issue:January 2018
Medical schools face challenges, too; active learning curricula can be significantly more expensive due to the additional costs of technology as well as faculty development.
The cost of implementing new teaching methods at medical schools is also a major consideration. The University of Vermont has applied a $66 million gift toward building and renovating classrooms and retraining faculty members. Part of the gift will go to expand its Teaching Academy, which provides faculty with mentors, conferences and workshops, and self-paced courses, all in the name of helping faculty discover teaching methods that can be more impactful than a lecture.
But not all faculty members embrace the overhaul. “Right now, we hire faculty without regard to what type of teacher they are or what they would contribute in that respect to the learning environment,” said Dr. Jeffries. “We’re going to have to focus more on faculty who want to teach, who are good teachers, and who are willing to work in these different ways. That’s crucial.”
As medical schools begin to see the positive effects of active learning, Dr. Jeffries predicts that lecture-style learning will fade away as active learning modalities become standard.
Renée Bacher is a freelance medical writer based in Louisiana.