6 Principles for Active Learning

Notes from the session by David Lindrum and Kay Christensen from Soomo Learning titled Making Active Learning Practical at the Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference.

The basics of active learning:

  • Formative interactions
  • Application assignments
  • Discussions, assignments, assessments, slides, etc.

“Students must do more than just listen: They must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems…And must engage in…analysis, sythesis, and evaluation” - Bonwell and Eison, 1991

Questions and assessments need to address all all levels of Bloom’s Taxanomy. If you only have higher level questions then it is all opinion and lower level it is just aswering questions without interacting and engaging with the content

6 Principles of Active Learning

1. Ask questions

  • 20–30% read the textbook in Gen Eds.
  • If no requirement or credit is given rarely will students complete it
  • Find out how many hours students are spending on the hw
  • Develop a way to assess where students are – email to faculty inbox once a week would be great!
  • Post-questions, used frequently, increase relevant and incidental learning. Pre-questions can inhibit both. - Frase, Patrick and Schumer
    • Post-questions - questions only show up after the reading
    • Pre-questions - showing the questions beforehand inhibits that ability
    • Helps students learn not only what they are tested on but the peripherals also
  • Rule of thumb: one formative question per 4 minutes of content

2. Explore Values

  • “Active learning places a greater focus on students’ exploration of their own attitudes and opinions”
  • On “value or opinion” questions instant pie chart or something to show other students responses helps engagement
  • Don’t be afraid of whimsical discussion questions

3. Write

  • How can your faculty have time to grade writing?
  • “When students know that their responses to peers will receive attention and public rewards, they invest more effort in thier responses.” - Neubaum, Wichmann, Eimler and Kramer, 2014
  • Response Board - Have students responses be made public, without being able to see others answers first. After the students answer you see what the other students answer. After a couple weeks the response quality will probably go up. This is helpful for “low-cost” questions . This is not a discussion board.

4. Discuss

  • “Discussing information introduced in alecture hleps students apply and retain it long-term” - Bonwell and Eison, 1991
  • Create a problem to be solved - you want a variety of answers. If all the same answers then you didn’t create a problem

5. Apply

6. Solve Problems

  • Problems to be solved gives them reasons to engage
  • Problem-based learning produces positive student attitudes and promotes better study habits and scores.