Active Learning Strategies :
Effective ways to foster active, constructive participation All research on people, and on their brains, shows we learn by doing. Learning is a Constructing process. Here are the choices available in the literature on teaching. The problem lies selecting the type of activity to match the purpose the teacher has in mind.
• Construction Spiral: Pose problem questions in a three-step learning cycle-(1) each individual writes down their thoughts, (2) all share in a small groups of three, and (3) compile the answer on the board in front of the whole class avoiding any evaluation or changes to what the class offers. Let the group correct itself. If weaknesses appear or more sophisticated understanding is needed, pose a second problem in the same manner. First questions usually begin at a reflex level to engage the students. Used to construct understandings and concepts.
• Round: Each person has a 2 or 3 minute opportunity to express his or her point of view on a given topic, or passes, while others listen. Used to elicit a range of viewpoints and build a sense of safe participation.
• Brainstorm: Solicit, and compile for all to see, alternative possibilities without judgments. Used to generate ideas, encourage creativity, involve the whole group, and demonstrate that people working together can create more than the individual alone.
• Writing in Class: Focus questions, in-class journals, lecture or reading summaries and in-class essays can improve the learning of the subject matter and, with clear objectives and feedback, improve writing skills, too. See also Classroom Assessment Techniques.
• Concept Models: Given handouts that ask a series of leading questions, students work in small groups to figure out how something works or build a conceptual model. They make their own diagrams and record their own observations. Workshop Biology Project, for example.
• Simulations and Games: By creating circumstances that are momentarily real, learners can practice coping with stressful, unfamiliar or complex situations. Simulations and games, with specific guiding principles, rules, and structured relationships, can last several hours or even days.
• Peer Teaching: By explaining conceptual relationships to others, tutors define their own understanding.
• Question Pairs: Learners prepare for class by reading an assignment and generating questions focused on the major points or issues raised. At the next class meeting pairs are randomly assigned. Partners alternately ask questions of each other and provide corrective feedback as necessary.
• Learning Cells: Each learner reads different selections and then teaches the essence of the material to his or her randomly assigned partner.
• Examinations (18): Scheduling an exam stimulates learners to study. Completion, true-false, and multiple choice force memorization of facts and statements. Essay examinations force an overall general concept of the material. It is a rather obvious way to involve learners in doing something and getting them to think about what they are doing.