2.2 What is active learning?
Active or student-centered learning can be described as an approach in which ALL students are actively involved in the learning process both inside and outside the classroom using various modalities such as writing, discussing, problem-solving, and reflecting. Students can engage in active learning through different techniques such as Think-Pair-Share, Role Playing, Math Talks and Peer Instruction, among others. The timing of the activities might range in length from a couple of minutes to the whole class session or take place over multiple class sessions.
The activities involve a high degree of collaboration with others, doing collective writing, case studies, role plays and so on. This approach places a high degree of responsibility on the students--to analyze, discuss, create and solve problems and share their findings. Through this process, they become producers of knowledge.
Active learning activities can be useful tools in any discipline because of their emphasis on constructing new knowledge and skills. Moreover, an active learning approach can be implemented in different educational settings, from grammar school through high school, college, or university. While instructors generally adopt a passive or neutral approach during these activities, their guidance and direction are still crucial. Autonomy is crucial as students are expected to “monitor their own learning to develop strategies for learning and to make decisions about what and how they will learn” leading to a greater “absor[ption] in the learning (TEAL Center Staff, 2010).
The active learning prompts outlined in this document can help instructors adapt and implement proactive learning strategies in their courses. Meanwhile, the discussions that will hopefully follow from these activities can help increase students’ understanding of the material and improve their confidence.
By Katuska Campana