What is active learning?

If you struggle with concepts, retaining what you read and other barriers, this one is a must-read for you!


Active learning is an approach in which some instructional activities are involved which allows students to do certain things and know what they are doing. This is the definition suggested by academics back in 1991. Activities like reading, writing and discussing can help promote a higher order of thinking. But active learning processes are no more confined to only reading, writing and discussing, but also include a wide range of activities. While such activities are currently being implemented globally in various schools, this can be practised individually at home as well.


The theoretical basis of active learning

The constructivist learning theory suggests that people learn when they build their own knowledge base and connects new experiences thereby elevating the level of existent knowledge with new information. This theory also suggests that there are two ways of enhancing knowledge through experience and the accumulation of new information. The first way is to add the newly accumulated data or information to the already existent knowledge base or framework. The second method is to change the framework to accommodate the newly gained knowledge.


Evidence that shows active learning works

A 2014 study conducted on 225 students, by Freeman, suggested that students who were only exposed to traditional methods of learning like “teaching by telling” without any active learning approaches were 1.5 times more prone to fail tests than those who took up one or the other active learning processes. The report also found this true for various different disciplines which suggest that it is not only confined to a few subjects of fields but almost true for all disciplines. Another study that reviewed such studies, in 2011, found that 166 studies conducted before, found that students who were exposed to active learning processes had chances of better outcomes in comparison to those who weren’t.


Why is it essential?

Currently, active learning processes are being included in classrooms globally in various different schools, colleges and universities to make the classroom environment more inclusive. Besides the studies that suggested active learning works better and brings better outcomes, there are several others that suggests students from lower economic backgrounds, who are first-generation learners can close the gap of test results almost as good as students belonging from the higher economic background.


Some active learning techniques

A few active learning techniques are currently being employed in institutions. These include pausing between lectures for students to review the notes, or write down what they have just learnt, on their own and providing assignments that promote critical thinking on top of their existing knowledge.

Debapriya Chakraborty

Author is an aspiring creative writer, food-buff and bookworm. Loves to travel, bunks in lesser known bnbs and loves her chai more than anything else. She adds her two cents to every idea and has been a scriber for more than a decade now!
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