Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Student Preferences regarding Teaching Methods in a Drug-Induced Diseases and Clinical Toxicology Course

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Student Preferences regarding Teaching Methods in a Drug-Induced Diseases and Clinical Toxicology Course

Article excerpt


Active learning is a well-accepted and widespread instructional method incorporated in pharmacy curricula around the country. (1) Active learning can be defined as an instructional method that engages students in the learning process through meaningful learning activities. (2) In 2009, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) recognized "active and collaborative learning" as one of its 5 key components of effective teaching. According to the NSSE report, "students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and are asked to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares students to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily, both during and after college." (3) Incorporating active learning in the pharmacy curricula promotes curricular innovation, develops students as life-long learners, and supports student-centered learning. (4,5) Benefits of active learning have been studied and documented in the pharmacy education literature. (4,6,7) However, other studies have found that students were resistant to some of the teaching approaches that increase their out-of-class learning time and may not appreciate the additional workload of such teaching methods until later in their academic career. (8,9)

Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the Long Island University is one of the largest private universities offering a 4-year degree in pharmacy. Approximate class size at the college is 200. Similar to many other colleges and schools of pharmacy, the curriculum has been delivered in a more traditional "teacher-focused" environment. This article describes the college's experience with implementing active-learning activities into a course on drug-induced diseases and clinical toxicology. The investigators collected information examining students' comfort level and success of learning through various teaching methods. The primary objective of this study was to define which teaching method used in the course was preferred by the students. Additionally, we examined if students' preference for a particular teaching method correlated with their actual learning of drug-induced diseases.


Active-learning exercises were implemented in the Drug-Induced Diseases and Clinical Toxicology course, a required 3-credit course offered in the spring semester of the third of 4 years. The course relies on previously acquired knowledge of physiology, chemistry, pharmacogenomics, and other biomedical sciences. This background supports acquisition of the new knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient and healthcare provider consultation and education for the prevention, detection, and management of drug-induced diseases and toxicological emergencies that may occur in clinical practice.

The nature of the course content made it suitable for higher-level active-learning exercises. In line with recommendations from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Standard 11), various active-learning methods were introduced in the drug-induced diseases portion of the course. (10) Active learning is somewhat difficult to implement in a large classroom of approximately 200 students; therefore, several approaches were tested to investigate student preference and successful delivery in this setting. (11) Active-learning methods were selected based on feasibility and best fit by topic.

Three active-learning activities were implemented, each designed to be sufficiently different to allow for evaluation of student learning preferences and student learning. The first activity involved reading a textbook chapter outside of class followed by taking a quiz and participating in a problem-based learning exercise in class (textbook chapter/quiz/PBL activity). …

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