Active learning is an instructional approach that requires students to both “do” and “think” about what they’re learning.
In order for students to learn they need to make meaning of the material presented to them.
Constructivist learning theory (see Constructivism) emphasizes that students build their own knowledge, rather than just storing received information. Students must actively think about and connect new ideas and experiences to previous ones and often revise their previous understandings. This requires active work, not just passive reception of information.
While traditional lectures are efficient at delivering information from one (faculty) to many (students), they are often inefficient at engaging students to create meaning, especially at higher levels of cognition.
There are many ways to incorporate active learning into your course. For these to be effective, however, three key elements need to be in place (Fink, 2003).
Active engagement activities can exist both within lectures and alongside them.
Educational technology is often used to overcome the difficulties of implementing active learning due to:
If used appropriately, educational technology can support both teaching and learning by expanding experiences and learning materials, supporting learning outside the classroom and potentially increasing student engagement and motivation.
The idea of implementing active learning in a large course or with inexperienced students will feel daunting for most faculty. We address many of these concerns and offer potential solutions.