Creating excitement in the classroom through active learning
According to research, in the traditional classroom, teachers do 80 per cent of the talking, which is a surprisingly high percentage I think! When it comes to effectiveness though, is this really the best way to teach and learn, or could active learning be the answer?
Active learning is basically an instructional method that aims to engage students in the learning process; it is learning by doing. While traditional activities like homework could be included within this, active learning refers to activities that are set in the classroom.
The core elements of active learning are student activity and engagement in the learning process. It isn’t as simple as just introducing activity into the classroom though; the type of activity also influences how much of the lesson content is retained by students. Activities that are designed around important learning outcomes, promoting thoughtful student engagement and a deeper understanding of the subject are essential.
A class discussion is an example of active learning, and it can be held either in person or in an online environment. Discussions can be conducted with any class size but are generally more effective in smaller groups. Learners must be encouraged to think critically on the subject matter at hand and use logic to evaluate their conclusions.
Learning cells is another process of active learning which helps two students study and learn together. Developed by Marcel Goldschmid, a learning cell involves two students taking in turns to ask and answer questions on a particular topic. Students will read or watch material that focuses on the topic and write down any questions they may have. The teacher will then put students into pairs and one student is designated from each to begin asking their questions to the other; the two students discuss the question and alternate accordingly. During this time, the teacher is able to move around the classroom and give feedback and advice to each pair.
Class games can also be used as an energetic way to learn, perhaps to help students review a subject before an important exam, in a more relaxed format. Educational videos can also be used to engage students and help them understand what they are being taught in a slightly more engaging way. Asking the class a few questions before the video begins will also encourage students to pay more attention. Teachers may also consider dividing the class into teams to review what they have learnt once the video has finished.
So, what are the benefits to active learning I hear you ask?
Many students would agree that when they are able to complete a task for themselves, it is of more value to them in the long run. The need to produce a response and come up with the answers forces them to retrieve information from their memory, rather than simply recognising a correct statement. As a result, students take ownership for their learning, which then increases their self-confidence and self-reliance. The process of active learning also allows students to receive more frequent and more immediate feedback from peers and the teacher, improving their progress.
Collaborative learning is a part of active learning and involves students working together in small groups towards a common goal. This helps improve their interpersonal skills required for effective teamwork and promotes a positive attitude toward the subject matter. Through collaborative learning students have the opportunity to learn how they can clarify ideas through discussion and debate, exploring solutions and listening and learning from others.
At Serif we certainly recognise the importance of active learning and a student-centred environment for improving academic performance. Why not let your students’ take the reins in a lesson before the end of term? Using any of the Serif software, they could come up with some really interesting activities that will really get them thinking!