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Student Perception of Active Learning Group in a Problem-Based Learning Curricular Environment

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The “Active Learning Group” (ALG) described in this paper is a hybrid form of problem-based learning established at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University 5 years ago. The present study relates to an overall effort to ensure continuous quality improvement in the undergraduate medical education curriculum. As part of the course evaluation, the Office of Medical Education uses a survey instrument to collect student opinions about the ALG format and process. The survey instrument focuses on three domains: (1) professionalism; (2) positive learning experience; and (3) partnership in learning (collaboration). Ninety-five percent of the students value professionalism highly, especially teamwork. The survey results and student evaluations of the cases and facilitators allow us to identify and address deficits in the ALG process as a whole, paying special attention to the quality of the cases and facilitator contributions. In the future, items that elucidate student reflective practice will be included in the survey instrument.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Susan Perlis, Associate Dean, Office of the Medical Education, for her support.


This study is supported in part by the research and development office of the CMSRU.

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Correspondence to Nagaswami Vasan.

Ethics declarations

Since our study was part of continuing efforts to improve teaching, learning, and assessment, the students consented to the study, which also received IRB-expedited approval from the Rowan University (IRB protocol no. Pro 2017001673).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

DHHS Federal Wide Assurance Identifier: FWA00007111

Appendix 1 (Questionnaire) [8]

Appendix 1 (Questionnaire) [8]

  1. 1.

    ALG helped me to increase my understanding of the course material.

  2. 2.

    I came prepared for each ALG session.

  3. 3.

    ALG cases helped me to master core information.

  4. 4.

    My ability to work as a team with my peers is necessary for future medical practice.

  5. 5.

    I generally felt prepared for the block course examinations.

  6. 6.

    Discussions of the ALG cases were useful learning activities.

  7. 7.

    I learn better from lecture presentations than small group activity.

  8. 8.

    Solving problems/cases in a group is an effective way to learn course material.

  9. 9.

    I learned useful additional information during the ALG discussions.

  10. 10.

    ALG helped me prepare for course examinations.

  11. 11.

    The ALG discussions allowed me to correct my mistakes and improve understanding of the concepts.

  12. 12.

    I have a positive attitude about working with my peers.

  13. 13.

    The ability to collaborate with my peers is necessary if I am to be successful as a student.

  14. 14.

    Solving problems in a group is an effective way to practice what I have learned.

  15. 15.

    My ALG members worked well together.

  16. 16.

    I contributed meaningfully to the ALG discussions.

  17. 17.

    Most students were attentive during ALG sessions.

  18. 18.

    I paid attention most of the time during the ALG sessions.

  19. 19.

    The ALG format was helpful in developing my information synthesizing skills.

  20. 20.

    There was mutual respect for other group members.

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Melovitz-Vasan, C., Gentile, M., Huff, S. et al. Student Perception of Active Learning Group in a Problem-Based Learning Curricular Environment. Med.Sci.Educ. 28, 195–201 (2018).

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