Active Learning

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is embodied in a learning environment where the teachers and students are actively engaged with the content through discussions, problem-solving, critical thinking, debate or a host of other activities that promote interaction among learners, instructors and the material. Active learning is not represented in the teacher-centered classroom where the teacher is an active transmitter of information and the students are passive recipients.

Engaging students in active learning additionally requires that they be involved in higher order thinking at the levels of analysis, evaluation and create (see, Bloom’s Taxonomy). As instructors develop their lesson plans and therein the learning objectives, it is important to consider the situational factors involved, such as the content of the lesson (e.g., theoretical or practical), the learners (e.g., level, age, academic maturity), the context (e.g., classroom or clinical) and the assessments for the lesson (e.g., formative vs. summative; presentation vs. exam). This information will guide the development of learning objectives and help the instructor decide on appropriate verbs to represent the learning activity at various levels – i.e., Analyze: criticize, discern, summarize; Evaluate: debate, prioritize, value; Create: compile, hypothesize, reconstruct).

One of the most comprehensive sites for an overview of Active Learning is that of the University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Instead of re-creating the wheel, we invite you to visit their Active Learning page where you will learn more about: the basic elements of active learning; active learning strategies; addressing student resistance; letting go of control; overcoming the ‘cover the content’ paradigm; incorporating peer review; and more! The site includes ‘dramatization’ videos of scenarios highlighted throughout the Active Learning page as well as a rich list of additional resources. Continue reading