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Active Learning

Web Resources on Active Learning Strategies

What is Active Learning? (3 links)
Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom (ERIC Digest). ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education. Research consistently has shown that traditional lecture methods dominate college and university classrooms. If more active methods are to be adopted, we need to better understand the nature of active learning, the empirical research on its use, the common obstacles and barriers that give rise to faculty members’ resistance to interactive techniques, and how faculty can make real the promise of active learning.

Creating Learning Centered Classrooms. What Does Learning Theory Have To Say? (ERIC Digest).. Stage, F., Muller, P., Kinzie, J. & Simmons, A.. Reviews concepts underlying creation of learning centered classrooms, including: how college students learn, barriers to students’ learning, and classroom techniques to promote learning among college students.

IDEA Papers – Focusing On Active, Meaningful Learning (No. 34). Kansas State University. Defines active and meaningful learning and explains how cooperative learning and critical thinking strategies can be used to promote these forms of learning. Provides examples of using small, unstructured cooperative learning groups to enhance active learning and how to apply critical thinking strategies within a human A&P course.

Active Learning Strategies Overview (4 links)
Active and Cooperative Learning in The College Classroom. Paulson DR & Faust, JL. Broadly defines active learning as anything that students do in a classroom other than merely passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. Offers and describes dozens of active learning techniques, grouped into 6 categories: Individual Exercises, Questions & Answers, Immediate Feedback, Critical Thinking, Share/Pair, and Cooperative Learning. Provides a good list of references.

Alternative Modes of Teaching and Learning. University of Western Australia – Centre for Staff Development. Offers menu-based access to brief descriptions and examples of active (alternative) modes of learning. Modes include critical pedagogy, discovery learning, case-studies, problem-based learning, project-based learning, experiential learning, simulated experience, apprenticeship, service learning, action learning, coaching, mentoring, portfolios, reflective journals, collaborative/cooperative/group-based learning, peer teaching, independent study, learning contracts, and self-directed learning.

From Teaching to Learning: Part III. Lectures and Approaches to Active Learning. Seeler, D C, Turnwald, GH & Bull, KS. Explores some of the practical issues related to active learning and discusses ways in which the instructor can improve upon the lecture in order to increase student learning and activity. Methods include questioning, modified lecture formats, brainstorming and tests and quizzes. From the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 21 (1), 1994.

Using Active Learning in the Classroom. Florida State University. Chapter 8 in Instruction at FSU: A Guide to Teaching & Learning Practices. Defines active learning and provides numerous suggestions on how apply its various methods, including active listening & writing, visual-based active learning, brainstorming, collaborative learning, peer teaching, role playing & simulations, problem-based learning, case studies, and class discussion.

Overcoming Barriers to Active Learning (2 links)
Making Active Learning Work. University of Minnesota – Center for Teaching and Learning. A tutorial designed to define and elaborate on active learning methods, as well as illustrate (using video scenarios) some of the common problems faculty face when implementing these strategies. Provides a useful set of recommendations for making active learning work and a bibliography of web resources on these methods.

Navigating the Bumpy Road to Student-Centered Instruction. Felder, RM & Brent, R. In student-centered instruction (SCI), the burden of communicating course material shifts from the instructor to the students. To succeed, instructors need to understand how the process works, take precautionary steps to smooth out the bumps, and wait out the inevitable setbacks until the payoffs start emerging.

Active Learning in the Lab and Clinic (1 links)
How to ‘Activate’ Medical Students in the Office Teaching Setting: Giving Students Permission to Be Active Learners. Taylor, CA & Lipsky, MS. Medical students must learn to be self-directed, lifelong learners. The basic assumptions concerning adults as learners suggest that they are best motivated to learn when they are active participants in their learning. Although faculty development programs have been designed to assist clinical faculty in learning new, more student-active ways to facilitate learning, these new strategies can only be successful if students accept their role as active learners. By preparing our students to take a more active role, we can increase the probability that both the student and community preceptor will have a rewarding experience. From the column ‘For the Office-Based Teacher of Family Medicine’ in Family Medicine.

Additional Resources on Active Learning (4 links)
Active Learning. National Library of Medicine. A dynamic search of the NLM Medline database on this topic using the NLM PubMed interface.

Active Learning Bibliography. Ohio State University. A relatively recent (2000) collection of books and monographs covering active learning methods in higher education. Maintained by the Ohio State University Office of Faculty and TA Development.

Active/Cooperative Learning. Foundation Coalition. Addresses the following questions related to active/collaborative learning (ACL): Why don’t we teach the way students learn? Why should you care? How can I get started? What does research indicate? How much material can be covered using ACL? How much time does it take to adopt ACL? Are there workshops? Who are some people who can help? What are some resources? Emphasis is on engineering education, but a good resource nonetheless. Funded by the National Science Foundation.

Learning-Centered Teaching. University of Massachusetts – Lowell. Provides examples and models of learning-centered teaching, in which students take responsibility for their own learning. Topics include Objectives, Content Issues, Instructional Activities, Motivation, and Learning-Centered Syllabi & Course Materials. Based on the work of University of Massachusetts – Lowell faculty.