Active Learning

The term active learning was introduced by the English scholar R W Revans (1907–2003).

Bonwell (1991) “states that in active learning, students participate in the process and students participate when they are doing something besides passively listening.”

Active learning gets the mind actively engaged. The students are doing the things and are thinking what they are doing. They are dynamic participants. They are reflecting not only on the process but also on the results of their learning. They connect the new information to their existing knowledge. An active learner analyses the information, and connect that to the information he already has. Learning is a process that analyses the new information and connects that to what is already known. So this process involves thinking, doing, discussing, and problem solving and reflecting.

To promote active learning “we must move aside, often and regularly” Weimer (2002) (p.74). But that does not mean that the teacher lose the total control of the class. As Miller and her colleagues warn that “a common mistake of teachers in adopting an active learning strategy is to relinquish structure along with control, and the common result is for students to feel frustrated and disoriented” (Miller, Trimbur & Wilkes, p. 17). The course objective, class size, student experience and teacher’s philosophy about teaching will influence the strategy to be adopted by him.

Be clear on the goals. “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” (Barkley p.94). The teacher’s job is to help students learn, if he does not know what the students would learn, it would be confusion and wastage of time.

Activate prior learning. Because the student connect the prior learning with the new information, encourage students to participate in those activities that activate prior learning. A think-pair-share activity can be used in which learners take a minute to ponder the previous lesson, discuss it with one or more of their peers later and finally to share it with the class in a formal discussion.

Learning is closely connected to the ability of a student to store, retain and retrieve the information later on. These three components help the information move from short term memory to long term memory. It is more likely the information will be stored permanently if it has emotional connection. The teacher can use images, videos, and story to connect the information to emotion.

The brain needs some reason to remember an information, better than just to pass the examination. Find out some reason that connect the topic to the world around us.



Elizabeth F Barkley – Student Engagement Techniques

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