Designing Active Learning Exercises that Utilize Multiple Learning Strategies
AffiliationIndiana University School of Medicine
TitleDesigning Active Learning Exercises that Utilize Multiple Learning Strategies
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Governing bodies for higher education have encouraged curricular reform supporting more active and integrative learning. In response, Indiana University School of Medicine "renewed" its curriculum and asked that all courses commit at least 50% of student contact time to active learning strategies (non lecture). One particularly effective new learning exercise was a collaborative small group activity designed to reinforce key concepts in renal processing of ions and nutrients, and at the same time utilize multiple learning strategies. Evidence based learning strategies incorporated included: small group collaboration, peer teaching, retrieval practice using "clickers," and elaboration through discussion (Mayer 1980, Slavin 1980, Van Boxtel and Veerman 2000, Webb 1991). A convenience sample 23 students was assembled and completed a five question anonymous survey providing feedback. Survey responses indicated perceived usefulness of the exercise with average Likert scores of 3.7 on a maximum 4.0 scale. Response to open ended questions were also very positive. Customized National Board of Medical Examiner (NBME) exam scores further substantiated student perceptions. Student completing this exercise averaged 79% correct responses on questions mapped to this exercise compared to 76% correct responses for students nationwide. This nephron mapping exercise provides a model for designing exercises that promote use of Bloom's higher order skills and engage students in methods proven to enhance learning. Although this exercise included physiology content specific to the kidney, others could use this exercise as a model for developing interactive exercises for diverse learners (high school through post-graduate) in any discipline.