Practical Tips for Active Learning in Large Scale Classrooms

Presented by Kathryn Huggett and William Jeffries on January 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

The one hour lecture remains the traditional unit of medical education, particularly for the foundational sciences. A number of factors contribute to the preeminence of the lecture: it is an efficient way to accomplish the goal of knowledge transfer to the student, it is the easiest and most familiar format for students and faculty, and is the most economically feasible mechanism for the college to accomplish its teaching goals. However, it is generally agreed that most lectures limit engagement and therefore promote only “passive” learning and do not promote long-term retention. Medical educators have thus been investigating techniques to promote active learning, which promotes longer term retention and deeper understanding of scientific concepts. In active learning, the student often participates as a partner in the teaching and learning of the group as a whole.

A variety of active learning techniques have emerged as a way to expand the boundaries of learning within the confines of the traditional large group setting.

In this IAMSE web audio seminar we will discuss the learning principles behind active learning and reasons for incorporating these concepts in their large group teaching. The session will then demonstrate environmental and psychological factors that influence learning and enable participants to develop techniques to use these factors to increase learning and retention. Finally, classroom techniques that can increase engagement, learning and retention in both traditional lecture and flipped settings will be discussed.

Seminar Archive

Presenter Bios

Kathryn HuggettKathryn N. Huggett is Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Director of Medical Education Development and Assessment, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska.  She directs medical education research activities and works with faculty to promote educational scholarship. She was responsible for the development of an intensive summer faculty development program for health sciences faculty, and directs this program and other activities to improve educational quality.  In addition, she teaches medical and graduate students, oversees course and program evaluation, and participates in the management of the curriculum. She currently serves as co-chair of the Interprofessional Education Steering Committee and teaches in the interdisciplinary Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) Program in Leadership, both at Creighton University.

Dr. Huggett has worked in medical education since 1992.  She is a former President of the Society of Directors of Research in Medical Education (SDRME) and the society’s current representative to the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She also serves on the planning committee for the Medical Education Research Certificate (MERC) program for the AAMC.  Her most recent publications address academic program quality, curricular innovation, and interprofessional education. She is co-editor of the book, An Introduction to Medical Teaching, and is currently working on the second edition.  In addition, she has conducted research and published in the areas of medical school admissions, preparation for Graduate Medical Education, undergraduate honors education, and professional development.


William JeffriesWilliam Jeffries, Ph.D., F.A.H.A, is the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Prior to that he served as the Associate Dean for Medical Education and Director of Academic Computing at Creighton University School of Medicine. He has taught medical, graduate and other health sciences students continuously since 1981.

Dr. Jeffries has over one hundred research and medical education publications and has conducted numerous faculty development workshops and presentations on various aspects of medical education. He is an active Board Member of IAMSE, a Fellow of the American Heart Association and a Past Chair of the Division for Pharmacology Education of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He is co-editor of the book, an Introduction to Medical Teaching. His current interests include incorporation of active learning and technology into the medical curriculum, implementation strategies for curricular change and novel ways to teach clinical competency.