Isn’t All Learning “Active Learning?”


If you do anything related to education, you have probably heard of the term “active learning.” People write books and articles about it. They give presentations extolling its benefits. If you search for active learning in Google, you’ll get over 265,000 results. It seems like active learning is everywhere, but what does it really mean?

When people talk about active learning, they are usually referring to a style of teaching where students are encouraged to engage with the material they are studying in some manner. Students usually do this through reading, writing, talking, listening, and reflecting in some way with course content. For example, a teacher might have students work on a case study to see how they would apply concepts they have read about. There are several other active learning strategies that can be used in addition to case studies such as discussion groups, role-playing, and journal writing. Ultimately, the goal is to move away from a scenario where the teacher spends the whole class lecturing, while students passively sit and listen.

The new Larner Classroom at Dana Medical Library is being built to accommodate 120 students at small tables optimizing the team-based or active learning philosophy. The space will feature flexible furniture to support a variety of learning configurations, multiple projection screens, an advanced video and sound system, and active acoustics to accommodate both small and large groups.

Incorporating active learning into a class takes planning and time, but the results are usually worth it. Studies have shown that students in active learning classes learn and retain more information, participate more in class, and do better overall in terms of grades. Teachers usually report that they benefit from active learning too. After all, what more could a teacher ask for then to have a class full of engaged and successful students?

Library Construction Timeline, May 19 to mid-June 2014


This timeline is accurate to the best of our knowledge on May 15, 2014. Please call 802-656-2200 or email the Dana Library for more up to date information.

May 19, 20           Books, journals, and media in the south end of the back of the library will be relocated. Study space in the front of the library, the computer classroom, and the medical student study will be available.

The back of the library will not be open to patrons. Please ask at a service desk if you want a book, journal or media from the stacks. Please ask for assistance with printing at a service desk. Bathrooms in the library will be unavailable.

May 21, 22           Electricians will be unwiring tables and lamps in the front south end of the library. In the rear south end of the library air ducts will be cleaned and tested. Books will be stored on carts and media and most journals will be in storage space.

Study space in the computer classroom, the back north end of the library, and the medical student study room will be available. Some books and journals will be available on compact shelving in the back north end of the library.

The front south end of the library will not be available as study space. Please ask at a service desk if you want a book, journal or media from the stacks. Please ask for assistance with printing at a service desk. Bathrooms in the library will be unavailable.

May 23, 24           The carpets in the back south end of the library will be cleaned and will need to dry. Some books will remain on carts. Media and most journals will be in storage.

Study space in the front north end of the library, the back north end of the library, the computer classroom, and the medical student study will be available. Study space in the front south end of the library will be available, but there will be no power or data at those tables.

The back south end of the library will not be open to patrons. Please ask at a service desk if need help finding a book, journal or media. Please ask for assistance with printing at a service desk. Bathrooms in the library will be inaccessible.

May 25, 26           The library will be closed.

May 27, 28           Tables and chairs will be moved from the front south end of the library to the back south end of the library. Books that were on carts will be restored to shelves in the back south end of the library. At this point all of the books will be in the library, some on the compact shelving, some on regular shelves. Journals from A to the Journal of Biological Chemistry will be in compact shelving in the library. The remaining print journals, from the Journal of Biological Photography to Z, will be in storage.

Study space in the front north end of the library will be available.

The back south end of the library will not be open to patrons. Because movers will be carrying tables and chairs from the back to the front of the library down both hallways, the back of the library, the computer classroom, and the medical student study will all be closed. Please ask at a service desk if you want a book, journal or media from the stacks. Please ask for assistance with printing at a service desk. Bathrooms in the library will be unavailable.

May 29                   The movement of collections and furniture will conclude for this time period.

All of the book collection will be in the library, some on the compact shelving in the north end of the back of the library, some on regular shelves in the south end of the back of the library. Print journals from A to the Journal of Biological Chemistry will be in compact shelving in the library. The remaining print journals, from the Journal of Biological Photography to Z, will be in storage.

Please ask at a service desk if you need a print journal or a DVD that is located in storage. We will be happy to retrieve it for you. Please let us know if you need help finding a book. Printing and bathroom access will resume as before.

Mid-June               Renovation begins with the construction of a wall around the new construction zone. We expect the library to be especially noisy while this wall is erected. We will post more details as they become available.

What is a Learning Commons?


A Learning Commons (sometimes called an Information Commons or Digital Commons) is an educational space that incorporates multiple information technologies, online or distance learning, tutoring, collaboration, content creation, collections and resources, meetings, and reading or study. Academic libraries began developing learning commons, and the learning commons concept, in the early 1990s. Since then, many university libraries have transformed themselves by including technology-rich classrooms, creating vibrant and flexible collaborative spaces, and offering additional tools and services to meet the wide variety of patron educational needs.

As the intellectual and educational center of our community, the Dana Medical Library supports the education, research, and clinical practice of University of Vermont students, faculty and staff. In order better to meet the needs of our patrons, the Dana Library is adopting a Learning Commons model of library service. The Learning Commons will offer a media-rich, content rich, and learner-driven environment, with assistance from professionals at various points along the educational continuum. We look forward to engaging our patrons in this exciting transformation over the next several months.

For more information about a learning commons, read 7 Things You Should Know About™ the Modern Learning Commons by Educause Learning Initiative.

Medical Library to Host Classroom for Team Learning

artist's view of the Larner classroom from the end closest to the HSRF, showing students working at the tables.
Construction of a new classroom to support active team-based learning at the Dana Medical Library will begin in early June 2014. The classroom, to be named in honor of Dr. Robert Larner, will be located in the front south side of the Library. Prior to the classroom construction study tables currently located in the front of the Library will be relocated to the rear. To create space for the tables some bound journal volumes will move to adjacent Fletcher Allen storage space on May 19. These volumes will be available on request.

Outer walls will be built around the classroom construction site in early June and the new Larner Classroom will be built over the summer. The opening of the Classroom is scheduled for the fall semester. Medical students in the Foundations level (first and second years) will be the first learners using the classroom. The classroom will accommodate 120 students at small tables optimizing the team-based or active learning philosophy. The space will feature flexible furniture to support a variety of learning configurations, multiple projection screens, an advanced video and sound system, and active acoustics to accommodate both small and large groups.

The development of the Larner Classroom is a first step in the Library’s pursuit of the Learning Commons approach to offering a content and technology enriched and learner-driven environment. The Dana Medical Library supports the education, research, and clinical practice of students, faculty and staff in medicine, nursing, and the health sciences. Librarians are working with faculty, staff, and students from the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences to further develop the enhanced space and services.

These projects will result in disturbance and displacement for students, faculty, and staff. There will be an impact on study space between May 19 and early June. There will be noise and disruption at times. We will advise Library visitors of alternative study spaces if the need arises. All Library services including electronic and print book and journal access, interlibrary loan, reference and consultation services will be available during our regular summer hours.

We appreciate your patience during the construction period and look forward to the new classroom and reconfigured study space for the fall semester.

Contact Marianne Burke (, Director, or Donna O’Malley ( Project Coordinator, Dana Medical Library

New resource: Because you asked for it!


Prescriber’s Letter (PL) is a resource for medication prescribers to keep them up to date on new developments in drug therapy. Prescribers produces monthly concise updates and Detail-Documents provide in-depth coverage answering many specific questions related to each topic. More unique features included in the articles are charts, rumors, and comments by colleagues. Links to practice guidelines are included when appropriate.

Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and other prescribers can earn continuing medical education credits built around the information contained in the Letter. This resource is called “CME-in-the-Letter.”

Prescriber’s Letter editors state the content “is totally independent, and has no connection with any pharmaceutical firm. There is absolutely no advertising, or other financial support. Everything published in Prescriber’s Letter or the additional detailed documents is totally objective.”

There is a mobile app available for PL, but it requires the creation of an account first.

Check out this new resource today and let us know how you like it! It can be found on the Dana website under “Articles and More.” The direct link is:

A Thousand Ghost Maps: History in and as Health Crises


“A Thousand Ghost Maps” is a symposium that starts from the assertion that health and disease are always situated in expansive cultural landscapes, that the life of the body must be conceptualized holistically, and that illness and its responses cannot be separated from the historical and social forces of their particular times and spaces. The title of the talk is drawn from UVM Arts and Sciences’ “First-Year Read” selection for 2013-2014, Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World, a wide-ranging account of the spatial, cultural, and political reverberations of an 1854 Cholera outbreak; the panel mobilizes the book’s name and theme to suggest that health crises must always be understood as a complex interaction of pathogen and political economy, of individual body and configurations of power.

The symposium brings together at a single forum scholars of pediatric cancers and medieval history, of global health broadly construed and childhood toxic exposures, of AIDS in China and polio in Pakistan, researchers with MDs and PhDs alike. The discussant and moderator is President’s Burack Distinguished Lecturer JR McNeill, a Guggenheim and MacArthur Genius Fellow, Toynbee Prize-winner, and University Professor at Georgetown, who has recently written on the relevance of mosquito-borne illnesses in the decline of oceanic empires. Participants include Middlebury’s Svea Closser, McGill’s Sandra Hyde, UVM’s Barry Finette, Dartmouth’s Margaret Karagas, and John Aberth. The panel is organized and conceived by UVM Anthropology’s Jonah Steinberg. At the heart of the project is an interest in interrogating and understanding how history’s grand sweep is translated into individual and intimate experience and sensation, in the life of a body; the gathering is governed by the notion that even the largest movements of human beings across the planet are iterated at microscopic levels, in organs and cells themselves.

Davis Auditorium, Fletcher-Allen/UVM Medical School, Monday April 28, 11-12:30, reception to follow.

Dr. JR McNeill, University Professor, Georgetown University, Guggenheim and MacArthur Genius Fellow, and Toynbee Prize-Winner, Author of Mosquito Empires. Burack Lecturer, Moderator and Discussant
Dr. Margaret Karagas, Darthmouth College: Section Head, Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Co-Director, Epidemiology & Chemoprevention (Norris Cotton Cancer Center); and Director, Formative Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center
Dr. Svea Closser, Sociology and Anthropology, Middlebury College, author of Chasing Polio in Pakistan (Vanderbilt)
Dr. Sandra Hyde, Anthropology, McGill University, Author of Eating Spring Rice: The Cultural Politics of AIDS in Southwest China (UC Press
Dr. John Aberth, Author of Plagues in World History, The Black Death, and an Environmental History of the Middle Ages.
Dr. Barry Finette, Director, Global Health and Humanitarian Opportunity Program; Fletcher-Allen Pediatrics

Sponsored by UVM Anthropology, Global and Regional Studies, the First-Year Read Program and the TAP Program of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.

For more information, contact Jonah Steinberg,, or Mary Lou Shea, 802-656-1096.

In Association with the President’s Burack Distinguished Lecture of:

JR McNeill, How Hungry Mosquitoes Liberated the Americas, 1776-1898, Billings North Lounge and Apse, Monday April 28, 4 pm, Reception to follow.

Pre-med Student Group Opens Opportunities


By Thomas James Weaver

Spring semester of senior year is hectic for any UVM student staring down that Sunday, May 18, graduation date on the calendar. Christopher Thomas Veal has upped the ante in recent weeks with trips to academic medical conferences in Florence, Italy and Harvard University to present research he’s been involved with as an undergraduate.

Veal was one of just two undergrads presenting a poster at the event in Italy, the 61st Annual Society of Gynecological Investigation Scientific Meeting. The poster featured research he conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Phillippe, former professor in the UVM College of Medicine and now on the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Not only was I able to contribute to one of the most prestigious gynecological conferences in the world, but I was able to witness the ever-changing tide of research in women’s health firsthand. It was a phenomenal experience that has changed my life,” Veal says.

The student’s appreciation and enthusiasm for the mentorship and opportunities he’s found in his pre-med focus at UVM are palpable. And Veal has a strong desire to create the same for others. It’s motivated him to join together with like-minded students, including Fathima Samen and Rehana Pothiawala, to form a UVM chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS).

The group has quickly grown across the past year and now has approximately twenty members. Key support has come from College of Medicine faculty Dr. Elizabeth Bonney and Dr. Margaret Tandoh, and College of Medicine director of admissions Tiffany Delaney.

“It’s more than a social thing,” Veal says. “We’re facilitating connections that are helping advance the academic careers of our students.” He adds, “I hate when people think of minority as solely being race. We’re here for under-represented groups, people of lower socio-economic class, people of color, LGBTQ students.” Small picture, the group wants to open up opportunities at UVM. Big picture, they hope to play a part in giving the healthcare field a more diverse face.

The UVM MAPS chapter has connected with College of Medicine faculty and students for one-day shadowing experiences and on-going mentorships. They’ve traveled together to a conference in Maine and the recent Harvard event, connected a student with a summer internship at Brown University, and learned from a focused day together in the Rowell Hall Clinical Simulation Lab. Future plans include working with UVM medical students to help provide healthcare to migrant farm workers in Vermont.

“We’re a university that has a hospital and a medical school right on our campus. That’s something that not even Harvard has,” Veal says. “The fact that we can utilize that resource is amazing.”

Both Samen and Pothiawala graduated from Chittenden County high schools, but say they’ve discovered a much wider world even if college is just miles from home. Pothiawala has her eye on dental school someday, but brings diverse academic interests to the table with a major in management information systems in the School of Business Administration. Samen hopes for a future as a pediatric physician. She grew up in New Orleans before her family moved to Vermont, and living through the turmoil of Hurricane Katrina inspired her interest in medicine. “During the evacuation we went from shelter to shelter. I saw the doctors and nurses caring for people in that situation, and they became my heroes,” she says.

Veal is a Michigan native, who admits that aside from a generous scholarship offer, he wasn’t strongly drawn to UVM. That has changed dramatically during his years here, as he’s thrived with the mentorship he’s received from College of Medicine faculty and fallen hard for the Burlington/Vermont landscape and ethos.

Veal tells a story about a MAPS meeting with a group of admitted ALANA students. One young man’s lukewarm take on UVM — his opinion that Boston University would have more to offer — reminded Veal of himself four years ago. He shared his own experience and eventually persuaded the student to join UVM’s Class of 2018. Admittedly, that sort of admissions director’s dream isn’t going to happen every day. But it is a ripe illustration of what the fast-rising UVM chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students is all about — connecting student-to-student to make the most of all the university has to offer undergrads interested in the medical professions.

2014 Bruce A. Gibbard Memorial Lecture

Bruce A. Gibbard, M.D. Memorial Lectureship Program
Sponsored by the University of Vermont College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry

Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D.
The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Therapy:
The Talking Cure in the Era of Evidence-Based Practice

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Davis Auditorium
Fletcher Allen/UVM Medical Education Center, Burlington

Morning Program:

10:15 – 10:30 A.M.    Vermont Psychiatric Association’s Presentation of the Bruce A. Gibbard, M.D. Award for Clinical Excellence for 2013

10:30 – 11:45 A.M.    Gibbard Lecture (Grand Rounds Workshop # 14-128-32)

The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Therapy: The Talking Cure in the Era of Evidence-Based Practice

12:00 – 1:00 P.M.       Lunch Reception—Davis Auditorium Lobby

Afternoon Program:

1:00 – 3:00 P.M.         Workshop* (Davis Auditorium)

Personality Pathways to Depression: A Clinical Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Shedler

*The Afternoon Workshop is open to Clinicians and Mental Health Professionals only.  Attendance and clinical affiliation will be taken at the door. 

Lecture and Workshop Descriptions:

Morning Lecture

The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Therapy: The Talking Cure in the Era of Evidence-Based Practice

Psychodynamic therapy is an evidence-based treatment. Effect sizes are as large as those for other therapies that are actively promoted as “empirically supported” or “evidence-based”, and patients who receive psychodynamic therapy not only maintain therapeutic gains, but continue improving after treatment ends.  Research also shows that other forms of therapy may be effective in part because the more skilled practitioners incorporate  psychodynamic methods. Dr. Shedler will discuss the seven key features of contemporary psychodynamic treatment, review empirical evidence from randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses, and discuss how psychodynamic therapy compares to other evidence-based treatments such as CBT and antidepressant medication.

Learning Objectives:   

  1. Participants will be able to describe seven distinctive features of contemporary psychodynamic therapy.
  2. Participants will understand the concepts of effect size and meta-analysis.
  3. Participants will be able to describe empirical evidence supporting psychodynamic therapy.

Afternoon Workshop

Personality Pathways to Depression: A Clinical Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Shedler

It has become increasingly common to refer to depression as a “disease”, but it may be more helpful to view it as a nonspecific symptom—the psychic equivalent of fever—of a wide range of underlying disturbances.  For most patients, these disturbances are rooted in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, attaching, coping, defending, relating and experiencing self and others—in other words, in personality.  This seminar will focus on common personality pathways to depression and their practical treatment implications, with discussion of clinical case material and clinical vignettes to demonstrate case formulation and treatment strategies.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will understand how different personality styles and syndromes (e.g., borderline, narcissistic, avoidant) constitute unique diatheses for depression.
  2. Participants will practice clinical case formulation linking depression to personality dynamics.
  3. Participants will develop greater understanding of effective treatment strategies based on personality patterns and syndromes.

About Our Speaker:

Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D. is known internationally as a psychologist, consultant, researcher, and author.  He is best known for his article The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, which won worldwide acclaim for establishing psychodynamic therapy as an evidence-based treatment.  His research and writing on personality are shaping contemporary views of personality syndromes and their treatment.  He has authored numerous scholarly and scientific articles in psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis, and is author of the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure (SWAP) for personality diagnosis and case formulation.

Dr. Shedler lectures and leads workshops for professional audiences nationally and internationally, consults on psychological issues to U.S. and foreign government agencies, and provides clinical consultation and study groups by teleconference to mental health professionals worldwide.  Dr. Shedler is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and was formerly Director of Psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Department. When not teaching or practicing psychology, he is a certified professional ski instructor at Vail Ski Resort.

Continuing Education Credits:

The morning lecture (Workshop #14-128-32) is part of the UVM Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds Series.  Attendees will receive 1.25 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM

The University of Vermont College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of Vermont designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.25 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The Afternoon Workshop is not accredited for Category 1 CME or CEU Credits.

Application has been made for CEUs for Psychologists, Social Workers, and Mental Health Counselors.

Registration and Program Fees:

No registration is required for the morning program. Attendance and clinical affiliation will be recorded for the afternoon program. The annual Gibbard Lectureship Program is provided at no charge to participants, thanks to donations made to the Bruce A. Gibbard M.D. Lectureship in Psychiatry Fund at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. To learn more about the Gibbard Lectureship Fund or to make a donation, contact:   

Directions to Davis Auditorium:

From the Fletcher Allen Health Center parking garage Level 2 (orange), enter the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC).  Once inside, follow the signs to the Medical Education Center.  At the snack kiosk, turn left through the double glass doors.  Davis Auditorium is on the right.

Directions to Fletcher Allen Health Center Parking Garage: 

Map available at:


Contact: Jean Pieniadz, Ph.D., UVM Gibbard Committee Chair, at 802.651.7506
Committee Members:  Brooke Barss, M.D., James Jacobson, M.D., Judith Lewis, M.D., & Debra Lopez, M.D.

Novice Neurosurgeons Train On Brains Printed In 3-D

A simulated patient at the University of Malaya makes use of different
materials to mimic the look and feel of   human tissue. Credit / Courtesy of Vicknes Waran

There’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to brain surgery. But it’s hard for beginner neurosurgeons to get real hands-on experience. Most residents learn by watching and assisting experienced surgeons.

Newbies can practice on cadavers or use simulators, of course. But neither of those alternatives is quite the same as operating on a real, live patient, for better and for worse.

That’s why 3-D printers might help the doctors do a better job. At the University of Malaya in Malaysia, neurosurgeons are using 3-D printers to make realistic skulls and brains that residents can use to hone their skills.

Learn more online.

Nicholas Wilkie: Medical Student, App Creator

Imagine you’re a physician with a disaster-relief group. You’ve bounced over bad roads to get to a remote cholera clinic, leaving behind Internet and cell-tower access. You keep careful medical records of patients by typing the information into your shirt-pocket smartphone. Once in range, your phone (and those of your colleagues at other remote clinics) uploads these records to a central server, where the data may not only benefit your patients in the future, but also help decision-makers monitor the outbreak all over the region.

Thanks in part to UVM medical student Nicholas Wilkie, that scenario may soon be reality. As a volunteer with the humanitarian-aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders), Wilkie is developing software that stores cholera patients’ medical records on a smartphone.

The third-year student, who is also a veteran programmer, was inspired to write to MSF in June 2011, after hearing Professor of Surgery Bruce Leavitt, M.D.’81 share his experiences with MSF in Nigeria and Sri Lanka. In those field hospitals, Leavitt says, the patient’s surgical record consisted of handwritten notes in manila folders. “At the end of the day, they’d pile them up in a room in a corner,” he recalls. Wilkie approached Leavitt with his idea.

Getting the green light from Doctors Without Borders

Wilkie then found his way to Thang Dao, MSF’s Switzerland-based director of information services. His timing was fortuitous, as MSF was in the process of changing how it managed patient information. Soon he had written a crucial piece of software, one that gets central computers running OpenMRS and far-flung Androids to talk to each other. “It will send electronic health information in a cogent way to the server and record it the way that we want it to,” Wilkie explains.

Dao was so impressed that he invited the student to meet with him and his colleagues in Geneva to discuss adapting the design for doctors responding to cholera outbreaks. “We are one of the few organizations in the world that can deal on a large scale with cholera epidemics,” said Dao. “What was missing for us was how to collect data quickly, and closest to the sources of contamination — which is to say in the villages.”

“Nick is one of these people who can launch himself in very thick snow and make a track for us,” says Dao.

Reposted from the UVM College of Medicine website.