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Active Learning, Microbiology Education
While many active learning strategies are evidence-based, it is unclear as to which methods are preferred by most students. In the present study students in an undergraduate health professions microbiology course were assigned four projects (“types” 1 – 4) that included elements of active learning and that required students to apply microbiological concepts to health care or public health. A type 1 project involved the student consulting professional journals, textbooks and/or websites and preparing an informative brochure on an infectious disease suitable for reading by the lay public. A type 2 project involved the student shadowing a health care professional. A type 3 project involved the student performing a community service. A type 4 project involved the student designing and conducting an original lab research study. A survey was used to assess student attitudes about doing these projects. I report that while some students preferred particular project types, no project type was preferred by a majority of students. In addition, students ranked all four project types highly and considered them all to have equal educational value and relevance to course content. These results suggest that instructors should avoid using a “one size fits all” active learning approach. Students value the use of diverse pedagogical approches that engage their learning in different ways and that connect course concepts to real-world applications.