Better performance with Active Learning! Fact or Fiction?

I read an article on wired.com titled ACTIVE LEARNING LEADS TO HIGHER GRADES AND FEWER FAILING STUDENTS IN SCIENCE, MATH, AND ENGINEERING! Yeah, it go my attention too!

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has data proving that students are less likely to fail a course that uses active learning as opposed to lecture style. This study was conducted in F2F settings but I don’t see how it wouldn’t apply to DE settings as well. I would assume that these same results would be found in other types of courses such as the arts and humanities. Learning is an active process and lecture is outdated. Entire courses, such as OMDE 603 are created to introduce students to technologies which engage the student with higher level thinking and doing. The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies is an indicator that the old way of lecture and listen is not sufficient for our learners today.

I would be very interested to see the data on this same study conducted in a DE setting. Students could be separated into two courses, one that uses active learning as the focus and one that uses readings and simple lecture capture. I guarantee the course using active learning technologies and collaborative projects would out perform the basic read and lecture style course. I’ve heard many people ask if lecture style has worked for so many years in the past why would we want to move away from a system that has proven results. I think there are many answers to that question but the number one reason is the fact that we have a different type of student today. Students are more likely to question the whys of the world and think for themselves. They want to collaborate with peers and learn from other’s experiences. The previous generation accepted the information that was given to them and conducted their learning and living without question, doing things for the sake of doing things the way they’ve always been done.

This new type of student is the reason that educators must move away from tradition and embrace the technologies of today and tomorrow. Teachers today ask why they can’t get through to their students or why they don’t see progress in their student’s abilities. I think the teachers should be asking themselves “what can I change and improve upon to inspire progress in my students?” Studies like this one are a perfect answer.

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