CBCL – The Alphabet Soup Of Active-Learning Methodologies Continues To Expand

Active Learning: Joining PBL (problem-based learning), CBL (case-based learning), and TBL (team-based learning), is CBCL (case-based collaborative learning).  The method seems to be a variant of TBL, with the major changes being individual readiness assurance testing with challenging (rather than foundational) questions prior to classroom time, and the use of open-ended rather than multiple-choice responses to questions based on evolving cases.  The authors randomized 64 volunteer first-year medical and dental students in a physiology course to 8-person traditional PBL classes or to 16-person CBCL classes.  In the PBL classes, there was no readiness assurance testing and students developed their own educational questions. In the CBCL classes, four 4-person teams answered open-ended questions first individually, then in the 4-person teams, and then as an entire group.  Final test performance was the same in the PBL and CBCL groups, but there was borderline significant improvement in the secondary endpoint of test performance among those students previously performing below the class median.  Overall student responses and observer report of active engagement were positive.  There are many variations on the active-learning theme, all seem positive.  Deans and administrators will likely favor those requiring smaller numbers of faculty. — Laura Willett, MD

Krupat E, Richards JB, Sullivan AM, Fleenor TJ Jr, Schwartzstein RM. Assessing the Effectiveness of Case-Based Collaborative Learning via Randomized Controlled Trial. Acad Med. 2015 Nov 24.

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