Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Faculty and Student Perceptions of Effective Study Strategies and Materials

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Faculty and Student Perceptions of Effective Study Strategies and Materials

Article excerpt


With the availability of technology and a new generation of learners, higher education is changing. (1) The availability of online courses, degrees, and learning tools has made traditional, live lectures and traditional textbooks no longer essential to learning. However, faculty members may be reluctant to embrace new technology and teaching methods, such as online learning or team-based learning, and may not have an understanding of students' learning strategies and approaches to mastering course material.

Students and faculty members may have differing opinions about the learning process and recommended course materials that could influence learning and course design. A previous study involving physical therapy students found no difference in learning style and course success but did find improved understanding and demonstration of clinical concepts with the use of technology to enhance learning. (2) An anatomy course found that lower-performing students used computer resources less frequently. (3) Learning approach research conducted among Australian pharmacy students concluded that students prefer vocationally related teaching strategies, where course material could be applied in the professional setting. (4,5) Another study characterized student pharmacists' perceptions of testing, study strategies, and recall. (6) Garavalia and colleagues compared student pharmacists' perceptions of motivation and learning strategies at different points in the curriculum. (7) They concluded that first-year students were more externally motivated than were third-year students, who relied more on intrinsic material that could be applied in the professional setting. (7) Literature on student and faculty member perceptions of specific study strategies and materials is scarce.

Focus groups have been useful in providing insight on specific topics. (8,9) They can be used to gather opinions outside of consensus, provide detailed information on student perceptions, clarify research findings or design subsequent research, and inform program pre-planning, reconfiguration, and assessment. (8,9)

The University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy (UTCOP) conducts synchronous distance learning between the Memphis and Knoxville campuses for 3 semesters starting in the second year. Didactic lectures and select recitations for required courses are recorded using Mediasite (Sonic Foundry, Madison, Wisconsin) and are posted on a secure Web site. At UTCOP, an audience response system, TurningPoint 2008 (Turning Technologies, Youngstown, Ohio), is used in the didactic portion of the curriculum for feedback during lectures and recitation sessions, attendance, and graded activities.

The purpose of this study was to characterize and compare faculty member and student perceptions of study strategies and materials. Focus groups were conducted to generate ideas relating to use of course materials, technology, class attendance, and study strategies for mastering class concepts.


Previously published focus-group methodology was followed. (8,9) Students were randomly selected to participate in the focus group based on campus involvement, leadership positions, cumulative grade point average, and campus location. All course directors on the Memphis and Knoxville UTCOP campuses were invited to participate in the faculty focus group. Each invited participant received an e-mail describing the project goals, the investigators' names (1 Memphis faculty member, 1 Knoxville faculty member, and 1 fourth-year student), potential focus group members, and notification that the discussions would be audio recorded.

Focus groups were conducted separately with the faculty group composed of course directors on both campuses and 2 student groups stratified by year for the first- and second-year students. Each session was conducted simultaneously between the Memphis and Knoxville campuses in April and June 2010 and led by the student investigator. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.