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A recently published study out of Harvard University shows that students who participate in active learning understand and retain the material better than passive listeners who are taught via lecture. The study was done with students in a physics class, and they were asked to respond to how well they thought they learned the material after both passive and active lessons, and they were also tested on the material from each type of lesson. The results were fascinating. Before we get into that, however, let’s talk a little about active learning and active learning classrooms.
Active learning is any type of learning where students are actively engaged and participating in the learning experience. They are directly involved in their own learning processes, and they are interacting with the material and concepts in a tangible way, as opposed to passively listening to someone teach. They are up and moving, doing experiments, taking on roles to further demonstrate and understand the material, and they are collaborating, exploring, and discussing the concepts they are studying.
Active learning classrooms are those that facilitate this type of active learning. They are typically set up differently than regular classrooms and are conducive to movement and interaction within the space. All of TCI’s curriculum programs are based on the notion that active learning is more enjoyable for students and more effective in teaching concepts. Each curriculum program has interactive activities and opportunities to actively learn the material, and we encourage an active learning classroom setup to make the most of our activity-based lessons.
Now let’s go back to Harvard’s new study. Students in this study were given a series of questions to answer after different types of lessons. These questions asked if students enjoyed the lesson, if they felt like they learned a lot, if they thought the way of teaching was effective, and so on. Then they were also tested on the material they learned during that class. Shockingly, the way the students viewed the effectiveness of the lectures was contradictory to how well they actually learned. More specifically, they seemed to think that lectures were more effective at teaching them, when in actuality, they learned better and remembered more from their active learning lessons. These students truly believed they learned more from passively listening to a lecture, but that simply wasn’t the case.
It’s important to note that these students go to Harvard, where lectures and traditional ways of learning are more common and are truly enjoyed by students. But take a moment to apply a concept like this to a younger student, such as a middle school student who struggles to sit still during an entire class period. Not only do teachers experience fewer disruptions during class when their students are up and moving, but if students are truly learning more when learning actively than passively, why not embrace this approach?
Part of the reason that more schools have not adopted an active learning approach to teaching is that it’s more work. It’s much simpler for a teacher to get in front of the class and simply talk about the concepts. The prep time is minimal and the teachers feel like as long as their students pay attention, they should absorb the information and grasp the concepts well. This study by Harvard is proving that this just isn’t the case though.
TCI is fully aware of this notion that students learn better when they are actively involved in their own learning processes, and we’ve made it simple for teachers to apply this idea to their teaching. Our curriculum programs are all active learning-focused. They all include several hands-on activities, interactive lessons, and fun and engaging instruction that helps students learn, understand, and retain more. While creating an active learning classroom can be a lot of work and take a lot of time, TCI has taken a lot of the hard work out of it for teachers and administrations. Our curriculum programs come with ready-to-use lesson plans, pre-made presentations, and instructions for facilitating countless engaging activities to help your students learn effectively, all the while minimizing the prep time for educators.
If students in active learning classrooms are learning more than they realize, why not adopt this approach and utilize it in your school? It will help students learn more and enjoy learning more, which benefits everyone.
Contact TCI today to learn more about our curriculum programs and how you can utilize our curriculum in your active learning classroom.