Table of Contents
Introduction to Active Learning
Good educators always do their best to keep their students engaged as much as possible. They always want to inspire their students to play an active part in the learning process. However, some teachers tend to use more passive learning strategies than student-centered ones. This is not always the best approach to ensuring that students stay focused during a class. Utilizing more learner-engaging methods is better.
So what does the student-centered method entail? Simply put, it is when the student is directly involved in the learning process. This entails the promotion of participation in the lesson via various means such as teamwork or teacher-learner collaboration. There could be incentives such as digital credentials in the form of online certificates that can feature custom badges.
The student-centered method is referred to as active learning which facilitates an in-depth and more fascinating class experience using the following activities:
- Combination of ideas
- Evaluation of class content
The above-mentioned actions allow students to provide feedback on their understanding of what was taught. This will enable educators to spot the difficulties that the learners are facing in comprehending the lesson. It is expected that a student’s attention will be lost every 12 to 20 minutes. So educators have to utilize engaging learning methods all through the class to maintain activeness.
Incorporating Active Learning into Traditional Lecture Settings
Keep in mind that the two major teaching approaches are the active and passive (traditional lecture) methods. And the latter has been in practice for decades. It is a familiar method in education, but it is considered outdated.
The learner-engaging approach is a much-needed improvement on the traditional lecture setting. This is because it will give the student freedom and adequate time to share their knowledge and make inquiries about what they already know. Traditional lecture settings only allow the educators to speak most of the time and the learners have to listen or write.
Lecturers, teachers, and tutors should push for students to give feedback, participate, and collaborate in the classroom. They can utilize any of the following strategies:
- Inquiry learning (learners investigating topics related to an idea)
- Clarification pauses
- Self-assessments (by learners)
- Interactive lecture (students interacting with lecture materials)
- Group discussions
- Jigsaw discussion (by allocating interrelated topics to each learner)
- Peer review (of individual work)
- Group evaluations (of group documents and presentations)
- Experiential learning
- Case studies
- Hands-on technology e.g. simulation programs
The Role of Technology in Facilitating Active Learning
Technology aids student-centered learning in large-enrollment courses, online courses, and hybrid courses. However, utilizing tech without effective adaptive strategies will not guarantee active learner participation. For example, an online class uses tech, but it can still be a passive experience for the student.
So teachers have to find a way to adapt technologies into the learning process to make the learner an active student—whether it is an online class or a physical setting (classroom). You can leverage the following tech to aid the student-centered learning strategies you have employed:
- Discussion Boards
The students can be made to discuss what they learned in the classroom in chat groups on online platforms.
- Online Adaptive Tutorials/Labs
Elearning platforms can be utilized to build an online tutorial/lab experience where learners can make use of educational materials or practice a skill as many times as they can. They will be allowed to do so at their convenient time with no need to rush.
Active Learning and Student Engagement: Motivating the Learner
Everyone is different and each individual has a personal way of processing what is being taught. Nonetheless, student-centered approaches have to be standardized in educational settings, regardless of individual preferences. So educators need to find ways to motivate every learner because not all of them will find the active participation strategies adopted exciting.
In the case of switching to a more active experience, remember that you do not have to make the class (or every lecture) engaging. This is because the student may get mentally tired of the lesson when it always requires pushing their brain power. A engaging process is not necessary and it should be considered unrealistic.
Mental fatigue could set in from attending a series of entirely non-passive lectures in a day or if the teacher of a particular subject always mandates it. Learners could develop a dislike for the process. And this will mean that the process will not yield positive learning outcomes.
Educators can schedule a couple of teacher-centered breaks during the class. In other words, try to combine both methods with more time dedicated to learner involvement or contribution. Make the students see the importance of non-passive approaches and mix them with passive ones. You can also conduct a poll to select techniques a majority of the class would prefer.
Additionally, you can keep changing the set of learner-engaging techniques used periodically to keep sustaining student excitement. Using the same group of strategies for more than a month could get boring—not just for those being taught but for the teacher as well. Lastly, consider introducing a digitalized credentialing system to award badges for various activities.
Active Learning Assessment Methods: Beyond Traditional Testing
Evaluate your chosen procedures regularly to measure their effectiveness against the traditional lecture setting. This should be done in consideration of the learning objectives, reasons for the assessment, and planned timing for evaluation. You can apply the following assessment methods:
- Student self-assessment (e.g. surveys and checklists)
- Teachers’ observations
So you can see that there are many active learning strategies that teachers, lecturers, and tutors can utilize to ensure that students do not dread sitting through a class. They can look forward to the next lesson with enthusiasm and maintain keen interest till the end.
Educators should research, test, evaluate, adopt, and adapt the best student-centered tactics that work for their classes. And with that, they can expect better learning outcomes in the future. Technology will be crucial in adopting and adapting certain strategies, of course.