Richness of Research on Active Learning: Let’s Stand on the Shoulders of Giants (or at least Other Educators)



By Carolyn Hoessler


Standing on the shoulders of giants
The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and scholarship of teaching and learning research promote the benefits of active learning, student engagement, and faculty-student interaction with courses that challenge students, shake them out of the passive listener role, and engage them in collaboration with peers to improve student academic performance. Prior evidence and strategies are summarized for several disciplinary areas including.

In addition to research studies in many disciplines including:

For a very comprehensive list of related articles see Ciaccia, Tsang, and Handelsman’s summary.

Highlighting the impact of short activities mixed with lectures, collaborative and cooperative activities, and an environment of interaction between students, these evidence-based approaches appear feasible and effective in improving academic performance.

When engaging in active learning, existing books and article gives hints about what to expect, tested strategies, and possible processes. Active learning challenges students to engage with materials and to deeply learn interconnections and potential applications. However, active learning needs to be explicitly explained to students who are often unaccustomed to such learning. Also, evaluations of your active learning course need to access student learning and other outcomes in ways that do not rely on course evaluations that may measure liking rather than learning.

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