ACTIVE LEARNING 7
CHARACTERISTICSOF ACTIVE LEARNING
IntroductionTheprocess applied by teachers to enhance learning in classrooms formsan important basis through which learners’ attention is captured.Teachers need to be managers in their classes by promoting activelearning in class as a way of creating an exciting learningenvironment. However, for effective active learning, students need tobe part and parcel of active learning. Active learning should improvethe learning process by engaging students in active thinkingassignments such as synthesizing, analysis and evaluation ofknowledge learned in class. Therefore, the concept of active learningis understood in the context of teacher student participation.Learning is not one way process, but a process that is enhanced byboth the learner and the trainer as such learning that does notincorporate active participation of students is not a learningprocess.Benefits of Active LearningActivelearning is associated with increased content coverage, promoting apositive attitude, critical thinking and problem solving amonglearners compared to traditional lecture delivery and passivelearning. Furthermore, active learning increases class enthusiasmdevelops creative and critical thinking, communication, adaptabilityand interpersonal skills among the students. Similarly, activelearning helps in improving learners’ attitudes and perceptiontowards education (Tsay& Brady 2010).Sharan 2010is of opinion that, despite enormous benefits associated with activelearning, instructors must play significant role in creatingfavorable environment that enhances active learning. Naturally, mostlearners exhibit resistance to active learning due to accustomedpassive learning introduced in other education levels(Tsay & Brady 2010).It is therefore, the instructor’s role to prepare learners anddevise effective approaches of engaging them in active learning. Thiscould be achieved through clear explanations on benefits of activelearning are critical in motivating learners participates actively inclass. As such, the instructor can introduce active learningtechniques in class or outside class environment through computerpresentations, independent study research, assignments among others(Aldrich& Shimazoe, 2010).Classes’discussions enhance intellectual sturdiness promote respect forstudents’ perspectives and makes learners feel that theircontributions are valid. Classroom discussions are important indeveloping a competitive and collaborative learning where studentsdevelop synthesis and evaluation skills. Active learning can beenhanced by requiring students ponder over past class topics covered,then discuss them with their peers, and after, share them with othermembers of their class this process is commonly referred to as‘think-pair-share.’ In this way, the teachers’ uses their fewminutes of class sessions to correct and clarify issues identified inthe discussion. This promotes active learning among students it isuseful in that, students are able to relate and identify what theyhave already been taught in their previous sessions(Sharan,2010).Tsay& Brady 2010observes that, with proper management of active learning instructorssaving time, arouse active participation, discussion among studentsand improve cumulative course assessment as training progresses thisis critical in enhancing course training. However,otherscholars like Brown and Schul are skeptical of this mode of learning.While they support cooperative learning in classes, they argue thatthis process does not always work in large classes. Similarly, theyobserve that the active learning might not work in some cases due tologistical issues of assembling learning aids. Furthermore, theyobserve that, the mode leads to time wastage which could lead to slowpace of syllabus coverage. Nonetheless, this approach is effective toinstructors in preparing for subject content and assessing studentsunderstanding of particular units. The underlying essence been thatit saves time for instructors, provide an opportune time for studentsto engage in constructive and interactive learning activity as theyinteract with each other (Tsay& Brady 2010).
Collaborativelearning group is another aspect of engaging learners in activelearning. The instructor may assign students in groups of 3-6 peoplefor an assignment which requires them to work together. In this casethe students are tasked with reviewing class work together, thegroups have leaders and note takers. The overall benefit of thisgroup work is that all students benefit by learning from otherstopics that they could not have understood well. In addition, thiscollaborative group work makes the work easier for the instructor inidentifying students who are slow and quick learners(Schul, 2012).
Classdebates are other important aspects of promoting active participationin class work. In this case, students learn by taking positions,gathering information to present in supporting their perspectives andexplaining it to others. Debates form an integral part of assessingunderstanding of student on particular issues that might have beencovered in class. Moreover, they are fun and give the studentsopportunity to develop their verbal presentation skills. After thedebate, the instructor should intervene in the clarifying particularissues in order to enhance more understanding among the students(Tsay& Brady 2010).
Onemajor underlying characteristic of active learning is cooperativelearning approach. In this approach, the classroom activities arealigned with social learning and educational activities. Thisapproach entails more than grouping students to involve ‘structuringpositive independence’ among the students. Cooperative learning ismore competitive than individual training as it enhances students tocapitalize on others’ skills and resources students evaluateothers’ ideas, ask and monitor other’s work. In this cue, as thelearners’ actively engage in learning activities the instructors’role changes to that of facilitating learning than giving information(Brown, & Ciuffetelli 2009).
Theassumption of this approach is that positive independent is promotedamong students, group and individual accountability in trainingactivities is fostered (eliminates social loafing), promotesinteractional learning and develops students interpersonal and groupskills. In short cooperative learning benefits transcends beyondacademic work as it instills in student leadership, decision making,trust building, communication and conflict management skills. Inorder to achieve active and competitive learning various techniquesare used students pairing, jigsaw, Think-pair-share and discussiongroups among others(Tsay & Brady 2010).
Learningis a process that involves both the learners and the teacher increating an exciting environment in which all participate actively.Therefore, promoting active learning in class is beneficial to thestudents as well as the teacher. Active leaning, lessens teacherswork and motivates students in participating actively in class.Trainers need to use multiple methods of enhancing learning as anapproach of promoting, engaging and eliciting proactive learningamong students. Active learning has various benefits students areactively involved in learning, various activities are used to enhancelearning, less emphasis on passive learning. More emphasis is placedon exploring values, attitudes and increasing students’ motivation.In addition, active learning elicits immediate response as anassessment of students understanding. Students are involved in higherlevel of thinking active learning develops students’ skills insynthesizing, analyzing and evaluating what is learned (Tsay& Brady 2010).
Thereare various types of active learning activities which involve classdiscussions, debates, independence studies, class games, writingassignments, collaborative learning, jigsaw, students led reviewsessions, Think-pair-Share and analyzing videos. The underlyingapproach in active learning is to promote cooperative learning inclasses. Active learning is associated with several benefits forstudents and the instructors. One is that students attain academicachievement, self-esteem, Learning activities improves studentsmemory on learned topics, active learning promotes positiveinteraction, students develops interpersonal skills, goodpresentation and communication skills, individual students developshigher reasoning, students become creative, innovative and enthusiasmfeels the learning environment as students develops a positiveattitude towards learning.
However,there are limitations faced by implementing active learning. One isthat, active learning is time consuming and requires great deal ofpreparation active learning is dependent on the instructor’swillingness to apply the approach and in some aspects hostility andresistance from students poses a great challenge in theimplementation of this strategy(Sharan, 2010).
Aldrich,H., & Shimazoe, J. (2010). Group work can be gratifying:Understanding and overcoming resistance to cooperative learning.College Teaching, 58(2), 52-57.
Brown,H., & Ciuffetelli, D.C. (2009). Foundational methods:Understanding teaching and learning. Toronto: Pearson Education.
Schul,J.E. (2012). Revisiting and old friend: The practice and promise ofcooperative learning for the twenty-first century. CITE Journal-TheSocial Studies, 102, 88-93.
Sharan,Y. (2010). Cooperative Learning for Academic and Social Gains: valuedpedagogy, problematic practice’. EuropeanJournal of Education,45, (2), 300-313.
Tsay,M., & Brady, M. 2010. A case study of cooperative learning andcommunication pedagogy: Does working in teams make a difference?Journalof the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,10(2), 78 – 89.