4 Useful Active Learning Techniques
Putting the student first guarantees a rewarding educational experience, says Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch. It’s for this reason active learning plays such a crucial role in the learning process.
As a student-centric approach, active learning places the responsibility for learning upon the student. Teachers no longer act as the sole source of information but instead guide students in educating themselves. This is achieved by shifting the focus away from traditional lectures, and giving emphasis to group discussions, problem-solving exercises, cooperative learning, and more, according to Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch.
Educators have designed several active learning techniques. Below are 4 of them.
The discussion involves the teacher posing to the classroom thoughtful questions designed to nurture the students’ critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and the long-term retention of information. After phrasing the question specifically and clearly, the instructor gives the students the opportunity to respond. The teacher keeps the discussion going by respecting all viewpoints; asking probing, follow-up questions; keeping the discussion focused; regularly summarizing concepts already discussed and providing a safe and intellectually open environment for the exchange of ideas.
In game-based learning, students are made to compete against each other or are challenged to overcome an obstacle through games, which can take the form of board, card, or video games. According to Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch, this makes the educational experience fun and engaging, therefore encouraging students to learn better. Instructors are tasked with creating games that give the educational material a central role in the game, and that award points for correct answers or other desirable behaviors.
Patrick Dwyer states that roleplaying is a method that has students assuming the role of a character responsible for making far-reaching decisions about policies, the distribution of resources, and others. Roleplaying allows students to see through the perspective of experts, encouraging them to think beyond limitations imposed by self and classroom. It also allows students to immediately apply learning material to a relevant context and allows them to interact and exchange ideas with their classmates. The teacher must ensure the roleplaying scenario provided will challenge decision-making and critical thinking.
A think-pair-share activity tasks each student with contemplating the answer to a question, then discussing their ideas with one or more neighbors to arrive at a final answer. Having to work in teams encourages students to learn and ensures everyone is given a chance to participate in the exercise. Frequent use of this strategy also improves the students’ enthusiasm and comfort with class participation, says Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch.
Active learning techniques engage students and allow them to acquire several skills that will be of great benefit to them. As such, Patrick Dwyer emphasizes the importance of making these strategies an integral part of education.