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Active Learning

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

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning can refer to any instructional method in which students work together in small groups toward a common goal. As such, collaborative learning can be viewed as encompassing all group-based instructional methods, including cooperative learning. In contrast, some authors distinguish between collaborative and cooperative learning. In either interpretation, the core element of collaborative learning is the emphasis on student interactions rather than on learning as a solitary activity. 

Team Based Learning

Team-based Learning (TBL) is an instructional method that allows a single instructor to conduct multiple small groups simultaneously in one classroom. 21-22 TBL stresses the importance of out-of-class learning based on learning objectives, emphasizes the importance of holding learners accountable for attending class prepared to participate, and provides guidelines for designing group learning tasks to maximize participation. Class time is shifted away from learning facts toward application and integration of information. The instructor retains control of content acting as both facilitator and content expert. TBL consists of repeating sequences of three phases: pre-class preparation, readiness assurance, and application of concepts. 

Problem Based Learning

Problem-based Learning (PBL) is a type of CBL where problems are introduced at the beginning of the instruction cycle to provide the context and motivation for learning. It is always active and usually collaborative or cooperative. PBL typically involves significant amounts of self-directed learning. Some evidence shows that PBL develops enhanced problem-solving skills in medical students and that these skills can be improved further by coupling PBL with explicit instruction in problem solving. 

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning can be defined as a structured form of group work where students pursue common goals while being assessed individually. A common model of cooperative learning incorporates five specific tenets: individual accountability, mutual interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, appropriate practice of interpersonal skills, and regular self-assessment of team functioning. The core element held in common is a focus on cooperative incentives rather than competition to promote learning. 

Case Based Learning

Case-Based Learning (CBL) is a learner-centered instructional approach where factually based, complex problems are used to stimulate discussion and collaborative analysis. CBL involves the interactive exploration of realistic and specific situations for which there is often no single correct solution. 

Active Learning

Active Learning is defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. Active learning requires students to do meaningful activities and think about what they are doing. While this definition could include traditional activities such as homework, in practice it refers to activities introduced into the classroom. The core elements of active learning are student activity and engagement in the learning process. Active learning is often contrasted to the traditional lecture where students passively receive information. 

Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.