Redesigning first year anatomy and physiology subjects for allied health students: Impact of active learning strategies

Monika Andrea Zimanyi, Nicholas F. Emtage, Pamela Lee Megaw

Abstract


To combat high failure rates in an Anatomy and Physiology for first year Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Sport Science students, a flipped classroom was introduced in 2015. It became apparent that students did not engage with materials prior to classes, but they did engage with in-class active learning strategies. In subsequent years of this study, our focus changed to delivery with student active learning in mind. The active learning approaches introduced resulted in improvements in academic performance for all three student cohorts. Occupational Therapy students’ marks improved by 12.9% when comparing pre-intervention (2014) results to the end of the post-intervention period (2017), Physiotherapy students’ marks increased by 6.9%, while the greatest gains of 14.8% were seen in Sport Science students. When investigating the relationship between student performance and university entrance scores, students with high entrance scores demonstrated modest gains in performance, while those students with lower entrance scores benefited the most. Our results suggest that the introduction of active learning may result in the transition of the learning style of students under-prepared for university studies, to be more like those of more successful students; that is, to a deeper level of learning.

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