Active learning can be incorporated in a face-to-face classroom as well as a hybrid or online course. Research suggests that audience attention starts to wane every 10-20 minutes. Incorporating active learning techniques will encourage student engagement by reinforcing important material, concepts and skills; addressing different learning styles; giving students an opportunity to process course material and allowing students to collaborate and build community.
Examples of active learning include:
Peer learning, or peer instruction, is a type of collaborative learning that involves students working in pairs or small groups to discuss concepts or find solutions to problems. Students are introduced to course material through readings, lectures and/or videos before meeting in class or in an online forum for peer engagement and problem solving.
Examples of peer learning include:
The response system gives us much better information about the distribution of knowledge among our students. This method also offers significant opportunity for engaging the students in discussions of reasoning and epistemology.
Collaborative learning is based on the view that knowledge is a social construct. Group work or collaborative learning can take a variety of forms, such as quick, active learning activities or more involved group projects that span the course of a semester. Students teach each other by addressing misunderstandings and clarifying misconceptions.
Collaborative activities are most often based on four principles:
Inquiry and discovery-based projects, including field studies and interactive laboratory activities, can engage introductory students, majors and non-majors alike. These experiences tend to be interactive and engaging for students, engaging the affective domain, which includes background information, definitions and relevance of the affective domain in teaching. This method generally increases students’ motivation to learn, confidence in their ability to learn, and their retention of knowledge and development of skills.
Several benefits to using inquiry and discovery-based projects include:
In a problem-based learning (PBL) model, students engage complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems—the motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn.
Some best practices for problem-based learning include:
Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. Activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, practicums, field exercises, and studio performances. Service-learning is also a form of experiential learning in that students engage in a cycle of service and reflection.
Dewey (1938) noted that education was a six-step process of:
Courses focusing on students’ application of effective learning strategies can improve students’ performance in those courses, but can also improve long-term performance and retention of students considered to be at risk.
Metacognition is broadly defined as thinking about thinking, and includes activities such as: