10 Healthcare Focused Active-Learning Activities

Decorative: A collection of healthcare icons set against a night sky - cross, caduceus, heart, atom, microscope, syringe, etc.


"10 Active Learning Exercises to Engage Students and Stimulate Learning" (post; doc) outlines "ten ideas for infusing active learning into your classroom lessons."

A. Favourite Five

1. (3-2-1) "Reading Reflections"

a. "Assign a particular section of the text to read for homework ... [and] at the beginning of the next class, have students write down":

  • "[T]hree things they learned from the reading"
  • "[Two] way[s] that learning might affect them in clinical practice"
  • "[O]ne question they hope to have answered today in class" 

b. "Have students hand in their written reflections, and then discuss the various takeaways as a class."

  • "Ask students to help answer their classmates’ questions from the reading." 
  • "This short exercise ... ensure[s] students complete [and engage] the assigned reading ahead of time."

2. "Unfolding Case Studies"

"Bring the subject to the center of your classroom by incorporating unfolding case studies into your lesson."

  • "Start off by providing basic assessment data on a patient."
  • "As class progresses, continue to reveal more information about that patient and their disease/disorder."
  • "Make sure students have their smartphones, tablets, or laptops on hand to reference medication, diagnostic testing, and care planning point-of-care software."

3. "Clinical to Classroom"

a. "Each week, assign one student to write a case study based anonymously on a former clinical patient whose diagnoses relate to concepts being covered in readings and class."

  • "Have the student present his/her case study."
  • "Then allow classmates time to discuss their possible answers to the questions provided in the case study."

b. "Finally, have the author lead a discussion about the clinical patient case study and provide the 'correct answers' that the authoring student prepared from required class readings, preparatory research, and his/her actual clinical experience with the patient."

  • "These can be submitted to you prior to class for review and you can then post it on the course website for all students to download prior to class."

4. Patient Teaching Pamphlets

"Create a sample patient that has an illness or injury related to what you’re currently covering in class."

  • "Then ask each student to develop an educational pamphlet, flyer, or mini brochure for that patient."
  • "Make sure students cover all the necessary information in their pamphlet such as: risk factors, signs and symptoms, when to call the primary care provider, treatments, prevention strategies, and online and community resources for further information."
  • "Encourage students to be creative with the design and writing of the piece to make the information engaging and understandable for the patient."

5. O2 Bingo (adaptable to all topics;useful with online self-study gamification tools like StudyStackQuizlet, Jeopardy Labs, etc.)

a. "Introduce your class to O2 Bingo by creating bingo boards [hard copy or online] with oxygenation terms (think oximetry, CPAP, hypoxia, etc.)."

  • "Then ask students questions and have them mark the answer on their boards."

b. "For a creative end-of-the-year review idea, have each of your students develop their own bingo cards and questions surrounding a specific nursing concept."

  • "Then have the entire class play a round of bingo to review the concept."

B. Other Activities Included in the Text

  • Ace Wrap Relays
  • NCLEX Exam Authors
  • Medication Commecials
  • The Sensory Deprivation Experience
  • Name that Personal Care Item
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