Medical Science Educator

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 757–764 | Cite as

A Universal Guide to Transitioning Didactic Delivery into an Active Classroom

  • Renée J. LeClairEmail author
  • Kathryn H. Thompson
  • Andrew P. Binks


The transition to active delivery methods is increasingly advocated in medical education and demonstrably beneficial for robust learning, but it can be fraught with challenges for educator and learner alike. To help avoid some common pitfalls, we outline five key steps for the uninitiated or frustrated educator to smoothly and successfully transition to an active learning environment. Step 1: Articulate the change in teaching modality and the new roles of both the learner and the educator to establish trust and engagement. Students should understand the rationale for active learning and the importance of their participation. Step 2: The educator has a greater responsibility to guide with clear learning objectives that tightly align with preparation materials and assessment. We show how basic learning objectives can be developed to parallel assessment and improve student guidance. Step 3: With the expectation that students come to class prepared comes the educator’s responsibility to provide concise, focused preparation materials. We discuss how resources can be refined to deliver basic concepts and improve student preparation. Step 4: Generate an in-class activity following guidelines adapted from team-based learning. We discuss the importance of activity structure and summary to achieving student trust and success. Step 5: Interpret feedback and use our trouble-shooting guide to overcome challenges and improve your active classroom. Collectively, these steps provide universal and clear methods for faculty of all developmental stages to effectively generate an active classroom experience in any curricular setting.


Active learning Curriculum reform Faculty development Flipped classroom Interactive teaching Teaching methods 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Department of Basic Science EducationRoanokeUSA
  2. 2.University of New England, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Osteopathic MedicineBiddefordUSA

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