Active Learning

We all know students learned better when they have a chance to get actively involved in the learning process. After all, it’s not so hard to see that students are going to be more absorbed in the material when they’re learning through hands-on experience than when they’re passively sitting back and listening (or pretending to listen) to someone talk!

What’s a little more challenging is figuring out how to get students engaged in the learning process. Fortunately, the research has some pretty good ideas on this. Here are 5 things to try:

  • Blog construction: Have students make blogs about what they’re learning. One study found evidence that blogging as part of their coursework improved students’ scores on a biochemistry exam.
  • Peer teaching: Having students teach each other can help them learn. Besides making students more confident in their ability to present information, it also encourages them to prepare for class – the good side of peer pressure!
  • Active learning outside the classroom: Active learning doesn’t have to be something that just happens during class. It can also be a part of homework and studying between class meetings. Research published this year suggests that holding voluntary peer-led study workshops outside of class is especially helpful for students who are less prepared for the courses they’re enrolled in.
  • Smartphones: Technology can be a useful tool for promoting active learning. Keep an eye out for smartphone apps that you can incorporate into the curriculum!
  • Student buy-in: Create student buy-in by making students feel invested in and motivated about active learning. Communicate why you’re using active learning exercises and listen to feedback.

Incorporating active learning exercises into your teaching can take a little creativity, but the work will more than pay off in terms of how students approach learning and how much of the material they retain. If you have more active learning tips, please post them below!

Image: Flickr/Georgia Southern under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0