RESEARCH ARTICLE: Enhancing students’ experimental knowledge with active learning in a pharmaceutical science laboratory


  • Megan Anakin University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Arlene McDowell University of Otago, New Zealand



active learning, pharmaceutical science, experimental knowledge, laboratory experiment, pharmacy education


Objective: The study aimed to examine if an active learning approach used in a pharmaceutical science laboratory would enhance pharmacy students’ learning of foundation pharmaceutical science knowledge when conducting an experiment. 

Method: A pre-post-test study design was used to collect data from third-year undergraduate pharmacy students with two approaches to performing an experiment (active learning, and traditional). 

Results: Assessment data from 95 students (73% response rate) were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The active learning approach to performing an experiment resulted in significantly higher (p<0.001) scores compared to the traditional approach for knowledge about the variables to be measured (3.82 versus 2.72 for active and traditional, respectively) and measurement method (3.31 versus 2.85 for active and traditional, respectively). A thematic analysis identified ‘planning’ as unique to the post-test responses for the active learning session.      

Conclusion: The authors concluded that the laboratory session featuring active learning had a greater impact on student learning than the traditional experiment method. 

Author Biographies

Megan Anakin, University of Otago, New Zealand

Education Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine

Arlene McDowell, University of Otago, New Zealand

School of Pharmacy


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Research Article