Exploring medical student learning in the large group teaching environment: examining current practice to inform curricular development

Luscombe, Ciara and Montgomery, Julia (2016) Exploring medical student learning in the large group teaching environment: examining current practice to inform curricular development. BMC Medical Education, 16 (184). ISSN 1472-6920

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Lectures continue to be an efficient and standardised way to deliver information to large groups of students. It has been well documented that students prefer interactive lectures, based on active learning principles, to didactic teaching in the large group setting. Despite this, it is often the case than many students do not engage with active learning tasks and attempts at interaction. By exploring student experiences, expectations and how they use lectures in their learning we will provide recommendations for faculty to support student learning both in the lecture theatre and during personal study time.


This research employed a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Three focus groups, consisting of 19 students in total, were used to explore the experiences of second year medical students in large group teaching sessions. Using generic thematic data analysis, these accounts have been developed into a meaningful account of experience.


This study found there to be a well-established learning culture amongst students and with it, expectations as to the format of teaching sessions. Furthermore, there were set perceptions about the student role within the learning environment which had many implications, including the way that innovative teaching methods were received. Student learning was perceived to take place outside the lecture theatre, with a large emphasis placed on creating resources that can be taken away to use in personal study time.


Presented here is a constructive review of reasons for student participation, interaction and engagement in large group teaching sessions. Based on this are recommendations constructed with the view to aid educators in engaging students within this setting. Short term, educators can implement strategies that monopolise on the established learning culture of students to encourage engagement with active learning strategies. Long term, it would be beneficial for educators to consider ways to shift the current student learning culture to one that embraces an active learning curriculum.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Active learning, Medical students, Lecture, Interaction, Learning culture
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Division of Medical Education
Subjects: R Medicine
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Elizabeth Morris
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2016 15:53
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 22:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/62253

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