About Active Learning

On a typical day in the Larner Classroom,  students cluster in small groups at tables scattered throughout the space, conversations buzzing. Large screens around the room show details of a clinical case on the agenda for the day. As each student group weighs the list of potential diagnoses in the hopes of coming to a consensus, the professor stops at different tables to listen in on the discussion and occasionally chime in. Through this activity, not only are students applying the medical knowledge they’re learning, they’re also practicing how to work in a team and effectively communicate.


What Makes Active Learning Unique?

Active learning harnesses the digital space to prepare students for the work they do together in class. Before they even enter the classroom, students have often completed an online module or digital learning activity that focuses on the topic for the day. Then at the start of the session, each student takes an individual readiness assurance test to make sure they have the foundational knowledge they need to participate in the group learning. After each session, students are asked to complete a reflection exercise to help further cement what they’ve learned.

Visit What is Active Learning to learn more.

What Are the Students Saying?

Harris SyedFor Harris Syed, class of 2020, it’s an engaging way to learn.

“You’re using your knowledge to answer questions, as opposed to just passively sitting back, where it's easy to get distracted.”


Soraiya ThuraSoraiya Thura, class of 2019, was quoted in a Boston Globe Article.

“I walked out feeling like I had a much better grasp on the information.”


What Are the Faculty Saying?


Kathryn Huggett“It’s all in the service of training doctors who are ready to tackle the challenges of 21st century medicine,” says Larner Endowed Professor of Medical Education Kathryn Huggett, Ph.D. “Especially when active learning requires team work, it more closely resembles a real work experience.”


Rebecca Wilcox“When students work through clinical problems and experience it as a process, it sticks,” says Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. “This is great for retention but it also helps you grow as a team player and as a communicator – all essential skills to practicing medicine.” 

Watch Active Learning Videos

Example: Diagnosis Appendicitis? 

Example Diagnosis

How Instructors Approach Active Learning

How instructors approach active learning

Engaging Students in Learning

  1. Preparation: material such as an article, chapter, book, video.
  2. Class time can be spent as follows:


Instructor leading a flipped classroom.


Student responding to assessment question via clicker.


Response results on screen.


Collaborative working team.


Randomly selecting case study team.


Student team responding to case study.