| One-Minute Clinician

From Passive to Active: The Better Way to Teach... and Learn

Education is a powerful weapon in the management of pain. But how do you keep students interested?

An educational intervention must be carefully planned to be effective. It’s important to prepare clinicians for anything ranging from the curbside consult to an entire course.

  • I think to go to a class for 50 minutes can be like a slow death
  • There is very low yield from passive learning—me talking at you or assigning you to read a chapter
  • Follow passive learning with an active learning activity. It can be pretty easy to pull off, and more effective. It could be
    • 200 students in a classroom, and I’ll say, “Turn to your neighbor and discuss this for a couple of minutes.”
    • “Could you please rewrite in your notes this concept that I just explained?”
    • Team-based learning where 4 or 5 students get together and wrestle with a case or a multiple choice question and defend why the right answer is correct and the wrong answers are incorrect
  • I’m also a big fan of metacognition. Whenever I teach a class whether it’s online or a face-to-face class once a week or every other week, I’ll have students write in their reflective journal:
    • Not “What did I do this week.”
    • Not “I read this chapter, and then I did these cases.”
    • I want them to reflect on what were their impressions from that past week or 2 weeks, such as: “I was really surprised about what we did this week. I thought I would love it, and you know what, I didn’t like it so much.”
  • What I often hear is “I really didn’t want to do this activity this week.” For example, I teach an online course on the principles and practice of education, and I make the students use social media as a form of education:
    • I make them log on to Facebook in our closed group.
    • I make them “twit.” They all go screaming and kicking particularly into the Twitter world, but at the end of the course, they finally say, “I can see why this is a valuable educational opportunity.”
  • By having learners do the activity that you’re trying to teach, it dramatically increases their retention and their ability to incorporate that learned activity into their practice.