CDEM Voice – FOAMonthly


Stimulating Active Learning: Audience Response Systems

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Compared to the traditional passive lecture, active learning methods can increase student participation and motivation, promote critical thinking skills and even increase knowledge retention. Think-pair-share, flipped classroom, gamification, and team based learning are all examples of methods to promote active learning. Unfortunately, consistently incorporating these into the clerkship didactics can be difficult, especially with a rotating set of faculty volunteer lecturers and variable student engagement. One way to promote active learning in a structured didactic format is through the use of audience response systems.

This post, from the ICE blog, provides a nice overview of audience response systems and highlights several audience response technologies. By forcing students to commit to an answer, these systems provide learners with real-time feedback about their knowledge gaps in a low-stakes environment. This can be especially helpful for engaging the quieter students. These systems can also be used to provide accountability for any pre-reading or facilitate team competitions. For the instructor, the class responses can guide the focus of the discussion. More advanced technologies can track a learner’s progress over time to assist with formative feedback. These audience response systems, however, are a tool and not an active learning method in and of themselves. They are not a substitute for well-written questions or effective teaching styles. Nevertheless, this technology can serve as an accessible means to promote active learning and a great resource for colleagues searching for ways to develop more interactive teaching sessions.

Laura Welsh, MD

Medical Education Fellow

Division of Emergency Medicine

University of Washington School of Medicine

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