What Is Active Learning?

I have been reading numerous articles about Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Genius Hour and anything to do with hands-on learning and I kept seeing the word Active Learning. I guessed it meant that whoever was doing the learning was staying active. Makes sense to me.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit on a University of Michigan Bosch Best panel to discuss STEM education and I thought I would look up some information on what the University of Michigan was doing. I found out that the Center of Research on Learning and Teaching helped me answer my question. I learned that the term Active Learning has been around for a while. Michael Prince defined it as “Active Learning is generally defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. In short, active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing” .(Prince, 2004).

Jump forward a bit. I had some time to watch Matt Miller’s DitchSummit and the first video I watched was Solid Teaching Craftsmanship for EVERYONE with Jon Corippo & Cate Tolnai (Crafty CUE Crafters)

Everything in this video screamed Active Learning. Jon Corippo spoke about the shift in learning and I made a quick graphic of what he was talking about.

Image removed.He mentioned that we are moving from an “Outremembering/traditional approach to an Outcreating, Outsharing and Outadapting style. I am not sure how you could make that leap without Active Learning. Students need to own their learning, collaborate, communicate with each other (argue a little), critically think about decisions they are making and have the opportunity to be creative. I believe that the CrossBraining Platform does all of this, and yes, I am biased because I built it. I built it out of necessity to deliver the type of learning that I wanted to see in my classroom.

Here is a quick “Active Learning” lesson you can do in your classroom tomorrow. Have your students to do the Marshmallow Challenge. It is simple. Watch this Ted Talk and see just how easy it is to hand over the control to your class. Let them be active while applying knowledge and skills to build the best tower they can come up with. I recently sent our subscribers a video of this challenge and the modified the lesson to go with it. If you want to subscribe to our YouTube channel, click here

Is Active Learning effective? The article that the University Of Michigan posted stated this “The benefits of active learning have been supported time and again in the literature. By comparing student learning gains in introductory physics courses, Richard Hake was able to show that interactive courses were over two times as effective in promoting conceptual understanding as compared to traditional ones (Hake, 1998). A more recent meta-analysis by Freeman et al. reported results from 225 studies across STEM disciplines, comparing traditional lecture to active learning (Freeman, 2014). In general, students’ average exam scores were shown to improve by around 6% in active learning classes. Additionally, students involved in traditional lecture were found to be 1.5 times more likely to fail as compared to those in classes with significant active learning.”

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Wrapping it up. What is Active Learning? The University of Michigan also defined it by showing pictures. I am also going to post some pictures of what I think Active Learning looks like. If you want to manage Active Learning, reach out to us and get a free trial of the CrossBraining App. It was built for YOU and “Active Learning”. When is the best time to start Active Learning? Jeff Crowley from Dewitt Public School’s classroom clock says it best.
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