Strategies for the implantation of active learning methods in pharmaceutical education

Strategies for the implantation of active learning methods in pharmaceutical education

Pharmacy education is changing, and this change is being driven by a call for curricular innovation as well as an increase of new pharmacy programs. As competition among schools increases, faculty members will be expected to accept the challenges that this new generation of pharmacy education presents. The knowledge base in the field of healthcare continues to grow, but it is impossible to increase semester length or class time proportionally. Thus, moving forward, faculty members must recognize that active-learning strategies may be a valid way to address the increasing knowledge base by facilitating the training of pharmacy graduates who can find, process, analyze, and apply new information with their patients and their colleagues. Consequently, reorientation of pharmacy education has become necessary. As such, active learning strategies have been introduced into classrooms to increase problem-solving and critical thinking skills of students. Active learning involves substantive changes in the ways students and teachers work together, shifting the focus of classroom instruction from teaching to learning. In such classrooms, students are engaged in learning activities such as gathering data, defining issues, stating problems, generating and testing hypotheses, drawing conclusions, and reporting and defending their work. Active learning can enhance students motivation to learn by reinforcing the relationship of the material to real life. Examples of active learning instructional strategies include evaluating case studies, class discussions, project-based learning, problem-based learning, problematization, simulation (role playing, simulated patient, and virtual patient), time-based learning, game-based learning, and building concept maps.

Similarly, transforming a ‘traditional’ educational practice into competency-based pharmacy education will involve re-thinking of the roles of teachers, the roles of students, and re-designing of assessment tasks and many educational activities. Moreover, a pharmacy department or faculty is usually organized along disciplines ranging from medicinal chemistry, via biopharmacy to pharmacotherapeutics and social pharmacy. It is, therefore, necessary to create a curriculum management structure and a human resources allocation model, which may interfere or conflict with existing hierarchies and research interests.

This taller will address examples of active learning instructional strategies and the essential steps in designing a competency-based pharmacy curriculum and gives tips for a successful organization, development, and implementation of such curricula.

In Brazil 2017, the National Guidelines for Undergraduate Education in Pharmacy recommend professionals training to consist of a generalist, humanist education, which develops critical thinking skills with respect to health care, competency-based curriculum. In addition, the recommendations target theoretical and practical training in patient care. To help the teachers, the Brazilian Association of Pharmaceutical and Biochemical Education (Abenfarbio 2013) published a book aiming to guide and encourage the application of active learning methodologies in pharmaceutical education.


Pharmacy education, active learning, competency-based pharmacy curriculum.

Speaker: Geraldo Alécio de Oliveira
Institution: Grupo Educacional Athenas – Brazil