A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. Anna Blenda

This month the IAMSE publications committee review is taken from the article titled Engaging My Gen Z Class: Teaching with Memes (09 September 2020) by Aniela Mendez-Reguera & Mildred Vanessa Lopez Cabrera.

Characteristic features of Gen Z students include an incredible ability to navigate the internet and social networks, as well as immersion in video platforms from an early age. Additionally, the students of this generation excel at presenting complex ideas in a single image.

The article explores a creative method for engaging Gen Z learners using memes. Fostering student engagement has proven to be a challenge in both traditional and online teaching settings, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This topic is worth revisiting in the post-COVID teaching era, which has necessitated the development of new active learning approaches to re-engage students in the classroom. This task can be particularly formidable when teaching complex biomedical sciences, such as immunology.

As part of their unconventional immunology class assignment, students were tasked with creating their own memes and uploading them to the online discussion board. These memes were meant to describe specific immunology themes or content. The results were presented at a class conference with no impact on the final course grade, and students had the opportunity to vote for their favorite memes.

Overall, the informal student feedback for the assignment was very positive. This tool undeniably fosters student engagement and creativity and can be effectively integrated into various post-COVID teaching formats. The implementation of innovative teaching tools promotes enhanced understanding and communication between Gen Z students and their teachers, spanning generations from baby boomers to millennials. 

Anna V. Blenda, PhD,  
Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences 
Director of Research, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville 
Prisma Health Cancer Institute