When the University of Vermont’s medical school opens for the year in the summer of 2019, it will be missing something that all but one of its peer institutions have: lectures.
The Larner College of Medicine is scheduled to become the first U.S. medical school to eliminate lectures from its curriculum two years from now, putting it at the leading edge of a trend that could change the way the next generation of physicians learn their profession. (The medical school at Case Western Reserve University also has a no-lecture curriculum, established when the school opened in 2004.)
As anyone who has fallen asleep during a three-hour lecture class can attest, taking notes from “a sage on a stage” isn’t as effective as other ways to absorb information, and research confirms this. The main reason for the traditional method seems to be, well, tradition; medical professors and other teachers have been doing it this way for centuries.
“Retention after a lecture is maybe 10 percent,” said Charles G. Prober, senior associate dean for medical education at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “If that’s accurate, if it’s even in the ballpark of accurate, that’s a problem.”
Instead, medical schools across the country are experimenting with various forms of “active learning” — dividing students into small groups and having them solve problems or answer questions. In addition to improving retention, the approach more closely mimics the way work is accomplished in the real world.
“It creates a stickier learning environment where the information stays with you better and you have a better depth of understanding,” said…
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