Approaches to Active Learning; Two Medical Schools Make a Start

Presented by Michael Parmely and Susan Ely on January 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

This session outlines experiences at two medical schools currently introducing student-centered active learning in lieu of traditional didactic methods.

Since 2010 the University of Kansas Medical Center has been developing a program designed to augment student problem-solving skills with an emphasis on case-based classroom analysis and discussion. In 2013, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine began providing pre-recorded curricular content as a foundation for classroom synthesis sessions in which instructors asked students to expand on and integrate information in the context of clinical scenarios.

An essential component of these programs at both institutions is the emphasis on student-identified learning objectives. Both presenters will highlight challenges and successes encountered as each school travels towards more engaged student-directed learning

Presenter Bios

Michael ParmelyDr. Parmely has been involved in medical education since joining the KU Faculty in 1977. He directed the microbiology and immunology preclinical courses in the medical school for over 10 years and has received numerous teaching awards, including the Ruth Bohan Teaching Professor and Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching awards. His research deals with immune responses to the intracellular bacterial pathogen Francisella tularensis.


Susan Ely, Ph.D. joined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as Professor of Basic Science in 2011. Her roles include teaching immunology, directing academic blocks for both the first and second year curricula, and serving as a Problem-based Learning (PBL) facilitator. Before relocating to Virginia, Dr. Ely spent 19 years as a member of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University.