Active learning versus traditional teaching methods in practice (2023)


Background and objectives:Active learning, defined as a variety of teaching methods that encourage student self-assessment and personalized learning, is emerging as the new standard of education. This study aimed to assess how family medicine administrative leaders integrate active learning methods into the administrative curriculum.

Methods:Data was collected through an Academic Family Medicine Council Educational Research Alliance survey of family medicine employee leaders. Participants answered questions about the number and type of faculty in their specialty, the different teaching methods in the general practice internship, and the challenges they faced implementing active learning methods.

Results:The survey response rate was 64%; 97% of general practice trainees use active learning techniques. The most common were online modules, problem-based learning, and hands-on workshops. The number of teachers was significantly correlated with hours spent in active live (not online) instruction. A third of placement leaders felt challenged by the lack of resources for active learning. The internship supervisors did not mention the lack of specialized knowledge as a challenge for the implementation of active learning. Time spent in internship supervisor duties or the presence of a dedicated educator in the department was not associated with acceptance of active learning.

Conclusions:The use of active learning in clinical practice is required by both educational standards and student expectations. Internship leaders may feel challenged by a lack of resources in their attempts to embrace active learning. However, there are many methods of active learning, such as B. Online modules that require less time for faculty.

THere is a movement in medical education to encourage active learning techniques instead of traditional lectures. Active learning describes a variety of approaches including workshops, online modules, team learning, and flipped classrooms.1Active learning is designed to maximize student engagement, requires self-directed learning, and instills lifelong learning skills. These learner-centered methods may require pre-session assessment of learners and personalization of content to best meet learners' needs. Designing and facilitating an active learning curriculum requires many resources.

A meta-analysis of 225 studies found that active learning in universities improves student performance and reduces the likelihood of failure.3However, the evaluation of active learning methods in medical education has yielded conflicting results. Studies with medical students have shown that active learning modules lead to similar knowledge acquisition as traditional methods.4or a similar increase in knowledge but better application skills.5Student satisfaction with active learning varies.4-7Reasons given for low student satisfaction include the perception that lectures are more efficient, and frustration caused by inconsistent faculty quality or insufficient peer preparation.4,7

Despite these mixed results, curriculum regulators mandate the inclusion of active learning.6This study examined how trainee leaders implement active learning, what challenges they face, and what resources, including teacher time, can facilitate this transition..


opinion poll

The data was collected as part of the Council for Academic Family Medicine (CAFM) Educational Research Alliance (CERA) Survey of Family Medicine Internship Directors (CERA), which was distributed annually to internship directors in schools. of North American accredited medicine.8The survey was emailed to 147 US and 16 Canadian family medicine internship directors in June 2020 using SurveyMonkey. Non-responders received multiple reminders. The Institutional Review Board of the American Academy of Family Physicians approved this study in May 2020.

matter of survival

Participants answered questions about the percentage of time spent as a placement supervisor, whether their department had a non-medical educator or a medical graduate, number of faculty members, teaching hours, active learning methods hours, types of methods of active learning and Challenges in the implementation of active learning.

The analysis

We summarized the study variables using descriptive statistics. Bivariate correlations determined relationships between the number of teachers, the percentage of time spent as a teacher in training, and the time spent in active learning methods. We have defined active learning as any method other than large group lectures. We calculated the percentage of instructional time spent in active learning by dividing the number of hours spent using active methods in large and small groups by the total number of instructional hours. We have onetTest to determine if there were differences in the timing of teaching using active learning methods when the department had a faculty member with a teacher education qualification.


A total of 105 of 163 heads of practices responded, corresponding to a response rate of 64.4%. Descriptive statistics are presented in Table 1. 16 respondents did not complete the survey and were eliminated.

The correlations showed that the number of teachers was positively associated with the percentage of instructional time spent in active learning, but not with the percentage of time spent in online modules. No significant correlations were found between the trainee's full-time equivalent (FTE) and the percentage of time spent in active learning or active online learning methods (Table 2).tThe test showed that departments with an educator do not spend a higher percentage of their time (46.9%) on active learning than departments without an educator (51.5%,P=.478).tThe tests also showed no associations between the number of teachers and the type of active learning methods used (Table 3).

When asked about the challenges internship leaders faced, 33.7% said they lacked resources and 28.1% said their students were too geographically dispersed to use active learning methods, but 43, 8% said they used active learning methods without major challenges. Only 7.9% indicated that they do not have the experience to use active learning methods.


The more faculty a department had, the more instructional time they spent using live, active learning methods. However, the number of teachers was not associated with the time spent in active online learning methods. Perhaps larger departments can spend more faculty time on active learning in large or small groups, rather than using online modules that require little faculty time. Although most of the respondents had some learning methods, around a third felt challenged by the lack of resources. The biggest challenges with some active learning methods are the time needed to prepare them and the faculty needed to teach them.9

Resources for implementing active learning strategies include people, technology, and experience. Unlike a 2016 study10Our results show that the perceived lack of experience was not a problem when adopting active learning. There was a correlation between the number of faculty and the percentage of teaching time spent in active, live learning activities (large or small groups), implying that departments with more faculty could spend more time teaching. There was no correlation between the number of teachers and the use of online modules. Departments with limited teachers can adopt some aspects of active learning with less burden on teachers than small group instruction. Neither the presence of an educator nor the FTE for the facilitator role were associated with time spent in active learning. Changing these variables is unlikely to affect the acceptance of active learning.

This study did not inquire into the specific technology requirements for adopting active learning. This may include the presence of a technology specialist, suitable hardware such as cameras or laptops, or the availability of high-speed Internet in remote locations. As online resources become more ubiquitous and user friendly, the technological burden on medical school may decrease. However, many of these resources require subscription fees that must be borne by the institution or students. One area of ​​future research is the additional cost of subscription fees and the perceived benefits to medical students.

Active learning methods in medical education are the training standard, both from educational research1and from the student's perspective.7Didactics remain important to ensure equivalence of education across all clinical sites. This study shows that there are a variety of teaching methods that qualify as active learning. Individual medical schools should consider the availability of instructional resources when deciding how to incorporate active learning techniques into their curricula.


  1. McCoy L, Pettit RK, Kellar C, Morgan C. Pursuing active learning in the medical school curriculum: a learner-centered approach. J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2018;5:2382120518765135.doi:10.1177/2382120518765135
  2. KW man. Theoretical perspectives in medical education: past experiences and future possibilities Med Educ. 2011;45(1):60-68.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03757.x
  3. Freeman S, Eddy SL, McDonough M et al. Active learning increases student achievement in science, technology, and mathematics. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(23):8410-8415.doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111
  4. Prunuske AJ, Henn L, Brearley AM, Prunuske J. A randomized crossover design to assess the learning impact and student preference for active and passive online learning modules. Med Sci Educ. 2016;26(1):135-141.doi:10.1007/s40670-015-0224-5
  5. Everard KM, Schiel KZ. Lecture learning outcomes and an online module in the Family Medicine practical course. Fam Med 2020;52(2):124-126.doi:10.22454/FamMed.2020.211690
  6. Cooke M, Irby D, O'Brien B. Educating physicians. A call for medical school and residency reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass; 2010
  7. Walling A, Istas K, Bonaminio GA, et al. Medical students' perspectives on active learning: a focus group study Teach Learn Med. 2017;29(2):173-180.doi:10.1080/10401334.2016.1247708
  8. Seehusen DA, Mainous AG III, chess piece AW. Creating a Centralized Infrastructure to Facilitate Research in Medical Education Ann Fam Med. 2018;16(3):257-260.doi:10.1370/afm.2228
  9. Morris J. The use of team-based learning in a second-year undergraduate pre-registration nursing course on evidence-informed decision-making. Nurse Educ Pract. 2016;21:23-28.doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2016.09.005
  10. Tsang A, Harris DM Second-year medical students and professors' perceptions of active learning in an integrated curriculum. Adv Physiol Educ. 2016;40(4):446-453.doi:10.1152/advan.00079.2016
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Allyn Kozey

Last Updated: 01/26/2023

Views: 6205

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Allyn Kozey

Birthday: 1993-12-21

Address: Suite 454 40343 Larson Union, Port Melia, TX 16164

Phone: +2456904400762

Job: Investor Administrator

Hobby: Sketching, Puzzles, Pet, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Dowsing, Sports

Introduction: My name is Allyn Kozey, I am a outstanding, colorful, adventurous, encouraging, zealous, tender, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.