Internal Medicine

Active Learning

Active LearningIntroduction

Adapted from Lara V.,
McKinney K,

Surprisingly, active learning in fact refers more to a style of teaching than of learning.

Active learning is “a dynamic process involving continuous adjustment and re-structuring of basic elements…”

The characteristics of active learning techniques are that students do more than simply listen to a lecture. Students are DOING something including discovering, processing, and applying information. Research shows greater learning when students engage in active learning. This is itself premised on two basic assumptions:

1. That learning is by nature an active endeavour.

2. Humans vary in their preferred learning styles (an extension of multiple intelligences theory), and therefore a learning programme which embodies a variety of learning activities is more likely to provide benefit to all students than one based purely on a visual/verbal format such as Powerpoint lectures, or a standard bedside tutorial.

Active learning makes use of a variety of:

  • personal activities (talking and listening, writing, reading, and reflecting etc)
  • learning strategies (small groups, case studies, etc)
  • teacher resources (outside speakers, homework assignments, etc).”

Bonwell and Eison (1991) state that some characteristics of active learning are (Bonwell and Eison, 1991):

  • Students are involved in more than listening.
  • Less emphasis is placed on transmitting information and more on developing students’ skills.
  • Students are involved in higher-order thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation).
  • Students are engaged in activities (e.g., reading discussing, writing), and greater emphasis is placed on students’ exploration of their own attitudes and values.

The significance of this in promoting the deep learning style is self-evident.