Three Active Learning Strategies That Push Students Beyond Memorization.

Those who teach in the health disciplines expect their students to retain and apply every iota of learned material. However, many students come to us having achieved academic success by memorizing the content, regurgitating that information onto an exam, and promptly forgetting a good portion of it. In health, as well as other disciplines where new material builds upon the material from the previous semesters, it is critical for students to retain what they learn throughout their coursework and as they begin their careers as a nurse, engineer, elementary teacher, etc.

So, how do we get students to retain this knowledge? Here are three active learning strategies for pushing students beyond simple memorization.

1. Case Studies and Simulations – Forsgren, Christensen, and Hedemalm (2014) found that case studies stimulate the student’s own thinking and reflection, both individually and in groups. Through reflection, the student gains a broader view, increased understanding, knowledge, and deeper learning. Case studies are a form of problem-based learning that encourage the student to think critically and apply “book knowledge” to everyday practice and problems that will occur in the workplace. A literature review reveals very little research on using case studies in fields other than health, law, and business. However, case studies could certainly be written for any field of study.

Many other methods of assisting with knowledge retention come from healthcare fields but can easily be adapted to other majors. Simulation—whether high-tech as in mannequins or low-tech as in role play—is a good method to help the student apply knowledge to real world scenarios.

by : Sydney Fulbright, PhD.


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