More learning in ‘active learning’ classrooms, but students don’t know it

Posted on September 18, 2019

The study shows that although students felt like they learned more through traditional lectures, they learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms. Most students remained hesitant to switch to active learning – students seemed genuinely to prefer smoothly conducted traditional lectures.

The question of whether students’ perceptions of their learning matches with their learning is particularly important. This is because though students eventually see the value of active learning, it can initially feel frustrating. However, deep learning is hard work. The effort involved in active learning can be misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning.

In this study, for the first 11 weeks of the 15-week class, students were taught using standard methods by an experienced instructor. In the 12th week, though, things changed -- half the class was randomly assigned to a classroom that used active learning, while the other half attended highly polished lectures. In a subsequent class, the two groups were reversed. Notably, both groups used identical class content and only active engagement with the material was toggled on and off.

Following each class, students were surveyed on how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like "I feel like I learned a lot from this lecture," and "I wish all my physics courses were taught this way." Students were also tested on how much they learned in the class with 12 multiple choice questions. When the results were tallied, the authors found that students felt like they learned more from the lectures, but in fact scored higher on tests following the active learning sessions.

Ultimately, Deslauriers said, the study shows that it is important to ensure that both instructors and students are not fooled into thinking that lectures – even well-presented ones – are the best learning option. Instead, it is found that students learn the best when they are in an environment that promotes active learning and thinking.

Category(s):Child Development

Source material from Science Daily

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