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Am J Pharm Educ. 2010 Nov 10;74(9):170.

Transforming a large-class lecture course to a smaller-group interactive course.

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School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



To transition a large pharmacokinetics course that was delivered using a traditional lecture format into a smaller-group course with a discussion format.


An e-book and Web-based multimedia learning modules were utilized to facilitate students' independent learning which allowed the number of classes they were required to attend to be reduced from 3 to 1 per week. Students were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 weekly class sessions. The majority of lecture time was replaced with active-learning activities including discussion, problem solving, and case studies to encourage higher-order learning.


Changes in course delivery were assessed over a 4-year period by comparing students' grades and satisfaction ratings on course evaluations. Although student satisfaction with the course did not improve significantly, students preferred the smaller-group setting to a large lecture-based class. The resources and activities designed to shift responsibility for learning to the students did not affect examination grades even though a larger portion of examination questions focused on higher orders of learning (eg, application) in the smaller-group format.


Transitioning to a smaller-group discussion format is possible in a pharmacokinetics course by increasing student accountability for acquiring factual content outside of the classroom. Students favored the smaller-class format over a large lecture-based class.


active learning; educational technology; learning; pharmacokinetics

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