Up for Debate: Re-Envisioning the Journal Club with an Article-Centric Student Debate

  • Robert S Helmer Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy
  • Michael J Scalese
Keywords: literature evaluation, journal club, debate, experiential education



Effective utilization of evidence-based medicine requires skillful development of a critical literature evaluation process. Although traditional journal club activities are a common modality to teach and refine these skills, they may limit a learner’s motivation to perform a well-rounded critique of primary literature.

Innovation: In response to the challenges with these traditional formats, we describe a novel approach to refining critical literature evaluation skills in an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) setting utilizing a focused, article-centric journal club debate. Students, in pairs, are assigned a single article and are tasked with building critical arguments for both pro and con sides of the article, which culminates in a one-on-one debate.

Key Findings: The debate has been well received by students and faculty for increasing engagement in the critical literature evaluation process. The article-centric nature of the debate pushes students to a deeper understanding of an article’s merits and pitfalls. Ongoing limitations include significant faculty assessment burden and lack of a standardized, debate-specific evaluation rubric.

Next Steps: Future efforts should focus on evaluating student performance and perceptions of the debate compared to traditional journal club formats utilizing pre- and post- surveys.  The creation of a debate-specific grading rubric may streamline the evaluation process and reduce faculty assessment burden.


Article Type:  Note


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Received 2018-07-03
Accepted 2018-11-15
Published 2018-12-10