The topic of active learning is focused on getting the students’ minds engaged with the material. Unfortunately, it’s not about making the students active while learning, as in walking around and exercising while being lectured at…this would be a far easier task than what’s required.
Why would you want an active learning environment?
A few key reasons stand out:
- Increased knowledge retention, as well as association with critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
- improved attitudes towards learning
- increased classroom enthusiasm
- Better association with previous knowledge increased synthesis of information based on associations new and past knowledge
- Increased transfer between short and long term memory
So there are some great reasons why we should want to foster an active learning environment, but how do we do it?
There are three conditions which will help to develop an active learning environment for students:
- Creating a Classroom Community
- Optimal Level of Challenge
- Teaching Students Holistically
Creating a classroom community does just mean large group discussion which often only has a few participants talking. More so it means having a support network of peers that are engaged with one another processing thoughts and working out resolutions.
Find the optimal level of challenge can be difficult as if the work is too easy there is no value associated with it and if the work is too hard students will give up before they try, the book calls the just right spot the “zone of proximal development”. In essence, this is when students are still challenged but believe they can do it.
Teaching holistically is best thought of as teaching with all facets of the body and mind connection since research has shown an increase in learning when more than one domain of learning is activated. This means integration with cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains to deliver learning at all levels.
While some of this might not always be possible we do the best we can with what we have 🙂