Active learning in osteopathic education: Evaluation of think-pair-share in an undergraduate pathology unit

Published:December 27, 2021DOI:



      Fostering student engagement in low-resource learning environments is a common challenge in health professional education. Content-rich subjects, in particular, are associated with a high risk for disengagement. It is possible to enhance the student experience by incorporating principles of active learning and cognitive psychology within traditional forms of instruction.


      This study explored osteopathy student perceptions of think-pair-share, a teaching strategy that combines elements of retrieval practice with cooperative learning. Furthermore, this study sought to quantify the effect of think-pair-share on self-reported engagement and academic achievement.


      Osteopathy students in year two of the program at < details on Title page> were invited to participate. A pre-post design which conceptualised think-pair-share as an educational intervention was used. Twelve pathology lectures were divided into subtopics of 12–20 min duration. After each sub-topic, a short-answer question was posed to the class for consideration using the think-pair-share approach. A post-test survey assessed self-reported engagement and perceptions of the teaching strategy.


      Seventy-six second-year osteopathy students participated. Participants reported significantly higher levels of engagement (p < 0.001) following instruction with think-pair-share. Whilst the intervention did not appear to have an impact upon final grades, the majority of learners were satisfied with the approach. Qualitative feedback on the think-pair-share strategy was largely positive: perceived benefits to learning emerged as a dominant theme. Learners also valued the collaborative nature of this teaching strategy.


      Think-pair-share is an inexpensive teaching strategy that was received well by osteopathy students. This easily implemented technique can transform a didactic lecture into a collaborative community of active learners.


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