Active Learning

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

About the Presenters

Susan Cavanaugh is currently the Assistant Director of the Medical Library at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.  This new school in Camden NJ is preparing to graduate their charter class in May of 2016. Susan has been a medical librarian for 25 years and prior to becoming assistant director she was an evidence-based librarian and is still involved in teaching EBM.  Susan holds graduate degrees in library science and public health from Drexel University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs, with an interest in social justice, at Rutgers University.

She is an associate professor in the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences and is a co-course director of three courses: Scholar’s Workshop that is held once a week for years M1 & M2; LifeStages, a month long course for M1  based on Engel’s biopsychosocial model; and a humanities elective course on the social mission of medical schools.  Susan is highly involved in active learning in all three of these courses and she is a member of the Faculty Learning Community on Active Learning.


Sharon Whitfield is currently the Emerging Technologies Librarian at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.  As an Emerging Technologies Librarian, Ms. Whitfield investigates and implements technologies to expand access to library resources and uses technology to make the library more than just a place. Ms. Whitfield obtained her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. She is now pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Rowan University and is an involved member of the Faculty Learning Community on Active Learning. Ms. Whitfield has just completed a chapter for a LITA book that discusses the use of SpringShare’s LibGuides technology as a Learning Management System for the MedAcademy program, which a pipeline program to medical professions.

Christina Petersen, PhD
Education Program Specialist
Center for Educational Innovation
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Christina is an Education Program Specialist in the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Minnesota where she partners with faculty and departments to help create and redesign courses and curriculum to promote maximal student learning. she has a PhD in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University and her teaching experience includes undergraduate courses in Higher Education pedagogy. She has taught many of these courses in Active Learning Classrooms. Her teaching interests include integrating active learning into science courses, teaching in active learning classrooms, and evidence based teaching practice. She is co-author of a soon-to-be-released book from Stylus “A Guide to Teaching in Active Learning Classrooms.” She is a frequent speaker on innovative teaching practices and has delivered many professional workshops on active learning. Christina’s research pursuits include determining best practices for supporting student teamwork and understanding faculty motivation for using different teaching approaches.

Adam Finkelstein
Educational Developer
Teaching and Learning Services
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Adam Finkelstein is currently an Educational Developer at Teaching and Learning Services at McGill University where he develops educational university-wide initiatives to improve teaching and learning. He has wide managed a team of instructional designers and multimedia programmers, developed many different types of award winning technology-enhanced teaching and learning projects, and managed multiple implementations of McGill’s learning management systems. His research interests include teaching and learning in physical (classrooms and teaching labs) and virtual (online) environments. Adam is currently the Chair of two working groups responsible for the selection, design and renovation of classrooms and teaching labs at McGill. He is the learning design lead for all renovations and been focused on designing innovative spaces, including numerous Active Learning Classrooms. He is also Team Lead for the design and delivery of McGill’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and has worked with thousands of faculty on integrating technology into teaching and learning, course design and using active learning strategies.

Adam Finkelstein

Freeman S, Eddy SL, McDonough M, et al. Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. PNAS. 2014; 111(23): 8410-8415.

Hake. Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. American Journal of Physics. 1998; 66(1): 64-74. doi:10.1119/1.18809

McKeachie W, Svinicki M. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips. 14th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2012. Accessed January 7, 2016.

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.

Silberman M. Active Learning: 101 Strategies To Teach Any Subject [e-book]. 1996. Available from: ERIC, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 7, 2016.



Christina Peterson, PhD

Baepler P, Walker JD, Driessen M. It's not about seat time: Blending, flipping, and efficiency in active learning classrooms. Computers and Education. 2014; 78: 227-236.

Cotner S, Loper J, Walker JD, Brooks DC. It's not you, it's the room - are high-tech, active learning classrooms worth it? Journal of College Science Teaching. 2013; 42(6): 82-88.

Peterson C. Connecting active learning to what students value. TILT. 2014. Available at: Accessed on January 12, 2015.

Susan Cavanaugh and Sharon Whitfield

Librarians and Active Learning Models: TBL, PBL & CBL Presentation

Recording for UND access only:


Ge X, Planas L, Huang K. Guest editors’ introduction: Special issue on problem-based learning in health professions education/toward advancement of problem-based learning research and practice in health professions education: Motivating learners, facilitating processes, and supporting with technology. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning. 2015; 9(1). doi: 10.7771/1541-5015.1550

Salinitri FD, Wilhelm SM, Crabtree BL. Facilitating facilitators: Enhancing PBL through a structured facilitator development program. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Baed Learning. 2015; 9(1). doi: 10.7771/1541-5015.1509

Thistlethwaite J, Davies D, Clay D, et al. The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education. A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 23. Medical Teacher. 2012 June;(6):e421-e444.