Eduvation Blog

Active Learning

Passive learning methods like lectures, readings and demonstrations remain the mainstay in higher ed, but research tells us that active learning approaches can have much more lasting impact on student learning outcomes. From small group discussions and project-based learning to experiential field schools and peer teaching, in this episode Ken sums up some compelling evidence from UBC, Queen’s, and Guelph that seem to demonstrate that students learn significantly more from deliberate practice and enquiry-based learning than from lecture. Students who collaboratively observe a video of a tutoring session – not a lecture – learn better. Those who made mistakes and were then corrected learned 60% more than those who were guided straight to the correct answer. There are lasting benefits to enquiry-based learning seminars, particularly for “B” students.

The architecture of PSE classrooms is changing as a result. Queen’s has opened Ellis Hall, a new facility featuring active learning classrooms. UBC’s Sauder School of Business recently opened a Flexible Learning Lab.

80% of Generation Z prefer to study with friends, and 40% will do so on Skype if not in person. That social orientation of students may be driving the creation of learning commons and social space on campuses from St Mary’s U to the U of Calgary.

Small adjustments to the lecture theatre can improve student engagement. George Brown College’s new learning studios allow classes to shift from lecture to group discussions and back. Iowa State U has installed seats that swivel 240 degrees in double-wide rows that allow for group work. Oregon State U opened the new Learning Innovation Center last fall, including 2 “in the round” lecture halls that hold 600 students, all within 15 feet of the instructor. Active learning classrooms date back at least 20 years, to the SCALE-UP classrooms at North Carolina State U. Students sit in clusters of 9, and students learn better 88% of the time (particularly female students). The model has been emulated at hundreds of campuses.

Next week: Experiential Learning. Subscribe now so you don’t miss an episode!

Just #ICYMI, check out Red River College’s new commercial, featuring plenty of active learning.

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