Larner College of Medicine takes innovative approach to teaching

Engaged active learning will replace lectures

At the Larner College of Medicine, the traditional hour-long classroom lecture is giving way to team-based learning and other active teaching methods.

This transformation is based on data showing clearly that engaging students in active learning is superior to providing passive lectures for teaching science. Over the past few years, the College has been moving away from lectures to engaged active learning, building a new active learning classroom and renovating another to support team-based learning on topics such as diagnostic testing.

Research has shown it’s a better way for students to retain what they learn.

Kathryn Huggett, PhD, director of the Teaching Academy

The College has also developed a four-year program of hands-on, point-of-care ultrasound and has recruited the first endowed professor of medical education to lead its Teaching Academy. The academy supports professional development among a community of educators in developing the new teaching methods for this active learning approach.

With team-based learning, students prepare for class in advance, typically by watching a video or reviewing information provided by their instructor online. They then come together in small teams, to apply those lessons in various exercises. A faculty member acts as a facilitator, asking questions and challenging the students as they apply materials.

Tests both before and after the team exercise show the difference in the amount of information the medical students absorb.

“It’s leveraging the power of the group, the knowledge of the group,” says Kathryn Huggett, PhD, director of the Teaching Academy. “Research has shown it’s a better way for students to retain what they learn, instead of sitting in the back of the classroom and just passively taking notes.”