Active Learning

Resources to inform about and support the use of active learning in a health sciences curriculum

Recommended Journals

Academic Medicine                                                                        BMC Medical Education      

Advances in Health Sciences Education                                   Journal of Medical Education     

Advances in Medical Education and Practice                           Medical Education

Advances in Physiology Education                                             Medical Education Development  

American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: What Are They?

Systematic Review:

A systematic review summarizes the results of available carefully designed healthcare studies (controlled trials) and provides a high level of evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions. Judgments may be made about the evidence and inform recommendations for healthcare.


A meta-analysis is a type of statistical technique that involves combining and analyzing the results of many different individual studies devoted to a specific topic.

The Evidence for Active Learning

Beicher RJ, Saul JM, Abbott DS, et al. The Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) project in Research-Based Reform of University Physics, edited by Redish EF and  Cooney PJ (American Association of Physics Teachers, College Park, MD, 2007), Reviews in PER Vol. 1,

Dochy F, Segers M, Van den Bossche P, Gijbels D. Effects of problem-based learning: a meta-analysis. Learning and Instruction, 2003; 13(5): 533-568.

Gooblar D. Classroom freedom versus control. 2015.

Hoogenes J, Mironova P, Safir, O, et al. Student-led learning: a new teaching paradigm for surgical skills. The American Journal of Surgery. 2015; 209 (1): 107-114.

Kober N. Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press; 2015.

Marshall LL, Nykamp D. Active learning assignments to integrate basic science and clinical course material. Am J Pharm Educ. 2010;74(7):1-5.

McGaghie W.  When I say… mastery learning. Medical Education, 2015; 49 (6): 558-59. doi: 10.1111/medu.12679

Michael J. Where’s the evidence that active learning works? Advances in Physiology Education, 2006; 30(4), 159-67. doi10.1152/advan.00053.2006

Prince M. Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 2004; 93(3), 223-31.

Sawyer T, White M, Zaveri P, et al. Learn, See, Practice, Prove, Do, Maintain: An Evidence-Based Pedagogical Framework for Procedural Skill Training in Medicine. Academic Medicine. 2015; 90(8): 1025-1033.

Waldrop M. The science of teaching science. Nature, 2015; 523(16), 272-274.

White C, Bradley E, Martindale J. Why are medical students 'checking out' of active learning in a new curriculum? Medical Education, 2014; 48: 315-324.




Problem Based Learning

Neville AJ, Norman GR. PBL in the undergraduate MD program at McMaster University: the iterations in three decades. Academic Medicine. 2007; 82(4): 370- 374.

Srinivasan M, Wilkes M, Stevenson F, Nguyen T, Slavin S. Comparing Problem-Based Learning with Case-Based Learning: Effects of a Major Curricular Shift at Two Institutions. Acad Med. 2007, 82(1):74-82.

Wood D. ABC of learning and teaching in medicine. BMJ. 2003; 326:328.

Team Based Learning

Allen RE, Copeland J, Franks AS, et al. Team-based learning in US colleges and schools of pharmacy. Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(6):1-9.

Bleske BE, Remington TL, Wells TD, et al. Team-based learning to improve learning outcomes in a therapeutics course sequence. Am J Pharm Educ. 2014;78(1):1-5.

Deardorff AS, Moore JA, McCormick C, et al. Incentive structure in team-based learning: graded versus ungraded group application exercises. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2014;11(6)

Farland MZ, Sicat BL Franks AS, et al. Best practices for implementing team-based learning in pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(8):1-10.

Haidet P, Levine RE, Parmelee DX, et al. Guidelines for reporting team-based learning activities in the medical and health sciences education literature. Acad. Med. 2012;87(3):292-299.

Hickman SE, Wocial LD. Team-based learning ethics education in nursing. J Nurs Educ. 2013; 52(12):696-700.

Kolluru S, Roesch DM, de la Fuente AA. A multi-instructor, team-based, active-learning exercise to integrate basic and clinical sciences content. Am J Pharm Educ. 2012;76(2):1-7.

Livingston B, Lundy M, Harrington S. Physical therapy students’ perceptions of team-based learning in gross anatomy using the team-based learning student assessment instrument. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2014;11(1).

Medina MS, Conway SE, Davis-Maxwell TS, et al. The impact of problem solving feedback on team-based learning case responses. Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(9):1-5.

Mennenga HA, Smyer T. A model for easily incorporating team-based learning into nursing education. Int J Nurs Educ Scholarsh. 2010;7(1):1-14.

Mennenga HA. Student engagement and examination performance in a team-based learning course. J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(8):475-479.

Ofstad W, Brunner LJ. Team-based learning in pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(4):1-11.

Sisk RJ. Team-based learning: systematic research review. J Nurs Educ. 2011;50(12):665-669.

Tan N, Kandiah N, Chan YH, et al. A controlled study of team-based learning for undergraduate clinical neurology education. BMC Medical Education. 2011;11:91.

Zingone MM, Franks AS, Guirguis AB, et al. Comparing team-based and mixed active-learning methods in an ambulatory care elective course. Am J Pharm Educ. 2010;74(9):1-7.


Beyond Lectures

Matheson C. The educational value and effectiveness of lectures. The Clinical Teacher. 2008, 5(4); 218-221.

Stevenson F. Clickers: the use of audience response questions to enliven lectures and stimulate teamwork. JIAMSE. 2007, 17(2): 106-111.