#8 Active Engagement

Students learn better when they have active engagement with the material.

  • Active versus Passive Learning[1]
    1. Passive learning- students receive information and ideas
    2. Active learning-
      1. Students experience the information through observation and doing
      2. Students reflect on the content they learned and the learning process
  • According to his research, Ken Bain found that the best teachers create Natural Critical Learning Environment- where students actively engage with skills, attitudes, and the information they are learning[2]
    1. Intriguing question or problem
    2. Help students understand significance of the question
    3. Engage students beyond listening and remembering into higher-order thinking comparing, applying, evaluating, analyzing, synthesizing
    4. Provide space and resources for students to answer the question
    5. Students leave with another question- What’s the next question? Where can we go from here?
  • Benefits to active engagement with material
    1. Students put more time and energy into their learning
    2. They value and take ownership of the learning
    3. Leads to greater motivation, retention, and the development of higher-order thinking skills
  • Implementing active engagement in the classroom
    1. Lecture based classrooms typically support passive learning but with the right strategies they can be more active[3]
      1. Supplement with learning strategies like a problem to solve in their seats or a quick question to answer among peers
      2. Minute paper- set a break in the middle of the lecture and have students free write about a question posed based on the lecture material
  • Lecture engagement- have students write summaries or questions about the lectures
  1. Use poll-everyone or clicker questions to ask questions for the large group
  2. Incorporate “quick-thinks”[4]
    1. Correct the error- display a statement with an error and invite students to identify the error
    2. Complete the sentence- post the first part of a sentence and have students finish it
    3. Reorder steps- present a step based process in the wrong order and have students correct it
  3. Discussion classes appear to be more active than lectures, but are often not designed to properly engage students actively[5]
    1. Out of class preparation- have students prepare for a classroom discussion by assigning a question for them to think about before coming to class
    2. Freewrite- if discussions get heated take a break and have students write how they want to respond to the discussion
  • Ask students to develop questions to discuss
  1. Broad strategies to implement active learning[6]
    1. Create rich learning opportunities for students to experience what you want them to learn
      1. Solving real world problems
      2. Debate
      3. Service Learning
    2. Develop new approaches to introduce students to the content
      1. Move beyond purely lecture and reading to introduce content
      2. Use other mediums like videos, web based materials, interviews with local practitioners
  • Set aside time for in-depth reflection
  • Models for active engagement with material
    1. Problem-based learning[7]
      1. Students are given an ill-defined problem. They work collaboratively to analyze the situation, gather data, develop a solution, and assess their solution.
    2. Service learning[8]
      1. Students develop skills and knowledge by working directly with the community through integrated community service opportunities
    3. Simulations[9]
      1. Students practice using theories and hypothesis through real world simulations
      2. Teachers can use in person simulations or find already developed computer based simulations

 

[1] L. Dee Fink. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003) 104.

[2] Ken Bain. What the Best College Teachers Do. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Pres, 2004)

[3] John C. Bean. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011). 202-204.

[4] Linda B. Nilson. Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2013) 40-41.

[5] John C. Bean. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. 205-209.

[6] L. Dee Fink. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. 111-115.

[7] Linda B. Nilson. Teaching at its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors. 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010) 187.192.

[8] Ibid. 151-153

[9] Ibid. 148-151