2.5 How to encourage students to create active learning activities
Figure 6. Bloom’s Taxonomy
Bloom’s Taxonomy by the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching has been licensed under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
As with any new type of activity, putting active learning in a historical and pedagogical context for the students might be helpful for explaining the purpose behind these yet-unfamiliar methods. Educators have in fact long emphasized the importance of students developing higher-order thinking, reaching as far back as the writings of Plutarch (50-120 AD), who stated that “the mind is not a vessel to be filling, but wood that needs igniting.” (TEDx Talks, 2015). In 1956, an education committee headed by Benjamin Bloom published a Taxonomy of Education Objectives, classifying said objectives by complexity and specificity. According to Bloom’s Pyramid, creation is the highest degree of activity (Armstrong, 2020). The framework has since been used widely to rank the main goals for students' development and embraced by proponents of active learning, who emphasize working across its three primary domains--cognitive, affective and psychomotor.
It is important to emphasize to the students that the activities we are introducing them to are meant to train their critical thinking, reading, writing and listening skills. The following tips will further help smooth the transition to an active learning classroom for students as well as for instructors:
- Create a comfortable, respectful learning environment during lectures and group activities by building a rapport with students
- Learn students’ names and use them regularly
- Make eye contact often during lectures and group settings
- Encourage students to ask questions, think aloud, and share with peers
- Allow students to do most of the talking in the classrooms and during group activities
- Encourage students to apply what has been learned in previous lectures, homeworks, quizzes, study guides through active participation in asking and answering questions, which can be done verbally or through a formal or informal assessment
- Encourage students to always write short feedback responses after every learning activity or lecture for them to analyze what misconceptions they have and what topics they have mastered
- Encourage students to create real-life examples and problems in group settings
- Instructors should, where possible, incorporate didactic, active and collaborative learning:
- Didactic learning is when students watch videos, read and listen to lectures and then instructors ask students for a short response paragraph.
- Active learning is when students independently analyze, understand, remember, evaluate, solve and create real-life problems through games and exercises.
- Collaborative learning (group team) is when all students actively work together to complete a task by sharing amongst themselves using different activity techniques.
- Note: A combination of at least two of the three in group settings activities is vital.
- Instructors should learn different active learning techniques: think-pair-share, jigsaw, learning games, peer tutoring, etc.
In Chapter 3, instructors can also find a detailed table explaining each of the above techniques.
By Katuska Campana