Finding inspiring ways to effectively teach or learn pharmacology is tough. For many, it can seem a boring subject full of epic lists and confusing molecular interactions.
But everything becomes a little easier when it’s more fun…
Which is why I’ve curated these 7 cool classroom activities for pharmacology that you can use whether you’re a student (bored in class) or a teacher stressed for ideas.
What’s even better? Each of these options is completely free to use or experiment with.
Let’s get started.
Class Activities For Pharmacology
The class activities we’ll be looking at:
- Tablet Dosages Game
- Pharmacology Jeopardy Game
- Drug Cards
- Poster/Interactive Presentations
- Pharmacology Mnemonics
- Pharmacology Trivia
Tablet Dosages Game
Quizzes always go down well with students, no matter the subject. Gamifying pharmacology works the same way.
RegisteredNurseRN.com has two awesome 10-question quizzes that are great to run through in small groups or pairs.
If you have a large screen you can run through these as a class together while getting students to mark down their answers on paper (to stop them looking up the answers).
Run through the explainer videos first as a refresher on how to best do these calculations. They’re originally meant for the NCLEX but wouldn’t be a miss in any introductory pharma class.
Useful and requires no prep!
Pharmacology Jeopardy Game
JeopardyLabs.com has an awesome pharmacology jeopardy style game that’s perfect for classroom teaching.
It all works in-browser, you don’t have to fuss around setting anything up.
Just set up how many teams you have playing then hit continue to start the game.
If you don’t know how jeopardy works check out a quick YouTube clip for reference (it’s very simple).
Question categories include:
The questions show up according to the point allocations and you can keep track of each team’s score below.
Pharmacology Class Project
The following are a few ideas you can do as pharmacology class assignments or projects, with students making up small groups.
Flashcards are a super powerful tool for drilling drug classifications, mechanisms and everything else. Producing a “class deck”, that you can play future games with, could be a nice idea.
This could work by:
- Get a bunch of index cards and colored pens
- Dividing the class into small groups
- Giving each group a certain drug class: i.e. anti-arrythmics
- Having each group produce a set number (20-50 etc) cards for their assigned class
- Get them to include images, symbols, mnemonics
- Then swap the finished cards with another groups and make a review
Bonus: you could even make a solitaire style game for pharmacology. Check out this idea from students at the British University in Egypt for inspiration…
How about dividing a class into small groups and assigning them with making a poster or documentary-style presentation?
Again you can give them a subtopic or drug class and get them to produce something informative and entertaining (whilst providing time for research).
Encourage them to add illustrations etc to brighten it up (not another boring Powerpoint).
Show them Speed Pharmacology’s videos for inspiration of what’s possible…
Once complete, each group can present what they’ve made with the other students fact checking or following up with questions.
You could even start a class YouTube channel if it really takes off!
This idea is based on Duke University’s excellent steroids and athletes pharmacology module teaching plan.
The idea is to provide students with internet access and books or journals specifically focused on a specific pharmacology topic.
You’ll need to come up with “scenarios” relevant to each topic, that explain the details of a case needing certain treatment.
Then, do as follows:
- Divide students into groups of 3
- Give each group a different scenario
- Provide adequate research time
- Ask the students to find out how the drugs in each scenario work at a cellular level
- Have each group prepare a skit to teach students about the groups of drugs relevant to each scenario – get them to discuss the pros and cons etc
- Judge the skits with a points system (that’ll add a nice competitive element)
As the teacher, you make the rules here. You might let each group enlist “volunteers” from other groups etc.
See Duke’s site above for examples of scenarios.
Making up weird and kooky mnemonics is always fun. Pharmacology, due to its endless lists, is perfect for this.
Divide your class into sub-groups and get them to create their own mnemonics. Make it a competition by giving the group with the best mnemonics points. You can put the decision down to a class vote.
Things you can make mnemonics from in pharmacology:
- Drug toxicities
- Medication administration checklists
- Lists of side effects
- Symptomatic indications for the usage of specific drugs
- Medications relevant to certain pathologies etc.
There’s a ton of options here!
Finally, trivia is another fun (and free) classroom activity you can enjoy with pharmacology students.
Similar to RegisteredNurseRN’s dose specific quizzes, you can also run through these in the same format (separating students into small teams etc).
Here are some great pharmacology quizzes full of interesting subject-related trivia:
- Fun Trivia’s Pharmacology A-Z: 25 questions that serve as a general overview of the subject
- ProProfs Quizzes: there are over 218 pharmacology quizzes here covering topics like pharmacokinetics, diabetic medications, antihistamines etc.
- Hitnots Pharmacology Quiz: A big 50 question quiz (including drugs and abbreviations) that has some challenging case-based questions
Also make sure you check out the user generated pharmacology submissions at Kahoot (there are thousands of them). These are awesome as your students can play them sitting in class while using a smartphone or tablet.
You will need to register with the site and login first however.
Are There Any Other Fun Ways To Teach Medication Administration?
Aside from the ideas above, most other “fun” ways of teaching medication administration to pharmacology students are generally paid.
Here are a couple of ideas:
- Pharmacology worksheets from Teachers Pay Teachers
- Buying a premade pharmacology flashcard deck from Amazon
Teaching Strategies For Pharmacology
There are several studes detailing effective strategies for pharmacology.
Here are a couple of them, presented next to their recommendations.
Online, simulation, and integrated methods of teaching pharmacology were most beneficial for pharmacology knowledge acquisition and student satisfaction. Traditional lecture, problem-based learning, and a flipped classroom were least effective strategies for teaching pharmacology to undergraduate students.
This article reports on an effective change from a lecture-only approach to teaching with the use of games and case studies in a baccalaureate nursing education program. Improvements have been noted in standardized test scores and student evaluations, and students are more engaged in the learning process.
The general consensus is that a student-led approach, along with a mix of interactive activities (quizzes, games, presentations etc.), is much more favorable when it comes to students doing well in pharmacology.
The science suggests the more fun pharma is, the more effective it is to teach. Hopefully these games can serve as inspiration!
If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following articles useful:
- 5 Best Pharmacology Anki Decks: Learn Pharmacology Fast (2021)
- Why Is Med School So Boring? (7 Horrible Reasons)
Image Source: @Ross Stone at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.