When was the last time you felt so curious about a topic that you spent hours on it? You read various articles, watched a lot of videos, and almost forgot where or when the time passed.
Active learning aims to foster this exciting and almost insatiable need to learn. It involves the student or the learner taking a more active role in their learning process. By employing multisensory techniques, the students not only learn about the concept being taught but also about their learning process. They begin to see the joy in learning new things and ultimately become independent lifelong learners.
That sounds like the ultimate way to teach, right? This is your lucky day because in this blog we’ll discuss various strategies to bring active learning to your life and classroom.
Think, discuss investigate and create: A few active learning strategies helping budding learners
Some strategies fostering the concept of active learning can help students manifolds. Hence, here are a few methods that can be employed if you are a parent, teacher, or educator who is in need of some great active learning strategies.
1. Group Discussion
Dividing a large class into smaller groups ensures that everyone will be exposed to a variety of opinions and heard at the same time.
Several other active learning techniques are done in groups like brainstorming and think-pair-share. Brainstorming involves coming up with new ideas together to solve a problem. This promotes creativity in the classroom.
Think-Pair-Share is a popular active learning technique wherein students individually think about a topic and are then paired together to share their insights. The insights of the pair are then further shared with the whole class.
All of these activities involve cooperative learning, which promotes deeper insights into the topic at hand and helps the students build their social skills.
Role play involves different students playing different roles while acting out a fictitious scenario. The idea behind role-playing is to help students experience various situations and learn how to deal with them in a safe classroom setting.
Since the scenario acted out is made as realistic as possible, this also ensures that the student will be able to transfer the skills they learn in the classroom to their real-life more easily and efficiently.
For students with dyslexia, who might have difficulty in certain social situations like professional interviews, roleplaying can be a really helpful tool. It can expose them to the situation while giving them the space and time to learn interview skills and stress management when put ‘on the spot’.
3. Teacher for the day
Using this active learning strategy, the student gets to experience what it’s like to create a teaching plan and deliver a class. The student does not only understand how to teach but also how different people learn. Through this activity, the teacher also gets some insights about the preferred way of learning of various students.
Smaller forms of this could include peer-to-peer teaching or the jigsaw puzzle technique, where everyone researches and learns about a different topic, and then they all come together to explain it to each other.
Another active learning strategy is dividing the class and asking them to take opposing views in a spirited discussion. This helps the students feel engaged and encourages them to think critically.
The students also learn to assertively state their own opinions and respect any differences in the same. This also helps in building social skills like self-confidence and teaches everyone to be open to a wide variety of opinions and learn to agree to disagree on some.
5. Tell me a story
This active learning technique involves the student making up a story to illustrate the concept just taught. It could also involve talking about real-life experiences a student might have had related to a topic.
For example, while teaching about natural disaster safety protocols, a student could talk about what their family did when they faced an earthquake.
Stories related to the concept can also be shown using digital media or virtual reality as tools. A 2022 study showed that virtually immersing students with dyslexia in their course significantly improved their enjoyment of and performance on the same.
This strategy helps in building a personal connection with the concept. It aids in understanding and retention of the concepts and boosts engagement within the class.
This active learning strategy involves the student being the judge of their own performance. This not only gives the individual an opportunity to identify their strengths and weaknesses but also to see their progress in real-time. This fosters positive emotions about learning and boosts the student’s self-esteem and motivation.
Self-assessment also helps the student gain insights about their own learning process and who does and does not work for them.
This eventually promotes independent learning and also gives some important information to the teacher that can help them structure their course in a way that would be effective for most students.
7. Case studies
Case studies involve giving a fictitious but realistic situation in the form of a question and having the class come up with new and innovative solutions for it. This active learning technique also promotes creativity and collaboration.
Since case studies place the learning of a concept in a realistic context, they explain why the concept is being taught in the first place. This ensures that whatever is learned can and will be applied to real life whenever the need arises.
Case studies also, in part, facilitate the understanding of various group dynamics and how to counter or leverage them.
Feedback is a facilitative active learning strategy. Feedback to the students from the teacher helps the students better understand what their strengths and areas of improvement are. This individual consideration makes them feel more seen in class and promotes engagement.
Teachers also take feedback on the concept that was taught and the way it was taught. This helps the teacher understand what techniques are working better for a particular class and how to structure the course further to enhance learning.
If applied effectively, active learning programs have a lot of scope for helping students with learning differences. A 2019 study showed that an active learning program significantly reduced reading and comprehension difficulties in students with dyslexia.
How to use these strategies for the best outcome
Pausing while teaching can be effective as it gives the time for the information to sink in. Pauses can also include 10-15 seconds breaks while talking as well as 2-3 minutes breaks between the class.
Intentional breaks between the teaching help prevent zoning out and missing important information.
Recapitulate whatever the key learnings and takeaways were at the end of every class. It could also be good practice to ask a random student to recap the last class at the beginning of a new one. It will ensure that they stay more engaged.
Recaps could also take the form of one-minute papers in which students write down their most significant learning from the class. This will help with retention and give the teacher feedback about what concept was understood properly and what might require a little more clarity.
3. Make it about the learners.
From the way the course and curriculum are designed to the tasks and activities it involves, everything should be customized as much as possible to meet the learning style of the class.
Active learning involves active involvement in one’s own learning process, so the motive should be to decentralize the class. Instead of the teacher being the head, doing all the lecturing, they should also become a participant and take on a more facilitative role.
The idea is to make the students center of the classroom and foster their engagement, creativity, and love for learning.
Active learning and its flexible approach make learning accessible and fun for all. When customized based on the student’s and class’ learning styles and preferences, active learning strategies can have exceptional outcomes.
They can provide an in-depth understanding of a concept and encourage the learner to think and apply themselves like no lecture can. Additionally, they also help the learner understand and enjoy their own learning process, essentially making learning a limitless and perpetual part of their lives.
- Asoodeh, M. H., Asoodeh, M. B., & Zarepour, M. (2012). The Impact of Student-Centered Learning on Academic Achievement and Social Skills. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 560-564. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.05.160
- Maresca, G., Leonardi, S., De Cola, M. C., Giliberto, S., Di Cara, M., Corallo, F., … & Pidalà, A. (2022). Use of Virtual Reality in Children with Dyslexia. Children, 9(11), 1621.
- MM Thabet, E. (2019). فاعلية برنامج للتعلم النشط لخفض صعوبات القراءة لدي عينة من طلاب المرحلة الابتدائية بمدينة الهفوف-محافظة الاحساء Effectiveness of an Active Learning Program to Reduce Reading Disabilities (Dyslexia) in a sample of Primary School Students in Al-Hofuf-Al-Ahsa governorate. International Journal of Learning Management Systems, 7(1), 1-14.