Active learning is a term that refers to several models of instruction that focus the responsibility of learning on by making them the active part of learning process rather than just spectators of the same. Students and their learning needs are at the center of active learning.

Active learning is a process that ensures that a student must do more than just listen: They must also read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems. Active learning engages students in two aspects – doing things and thinking about the things they are doing.

In an active learning classroom; quality of teaching and learning is improved when students have ample opportunities to clarify, question, apply, and consolidate new knowledge. In this case, instructors create opportunities for students to engage with new material, serving as guides to help them understand and apply information.

It doesn’t mean abandoning lecture format, but it involves the same with more teaching strategies that actively engage students in the learning process. These include group discussions, problem solving, case studies, role plays, journal writing, and comparing notes with partners and structured learning groups. The benefits to using such activities are many. They include improved critical thinking skills, increased retention and transfer of new information, increased motivation, and improved interpersonal skills.

TALKING AND LISTENING

When students discuss a topic, whether answering a teacher’s question or explaining a point to another student, they organize and reinforce what they’ve learned. When they listen, we want to ensure that it’s meaningful listening, relating what they hear to what they already know. In a lecture class, students need periodic time away from passive listening in order to absorb what they’ve heard. And they need reasons to listen, reasons perhaps more immediate than a good grade at the end of the semester. Did the teacher ask a question before the lecture segment that was thought-provoking enough to cause the students to search for the answer in the words that followed? Were they told beforehand that they would have to explain the points in the lecture to a fellow student?

REFLECTING

In the all-too-typical lecture class, the lecturer stops talking at the very end of the period. Students gather up their notes and books and run for their next class. One can almost see the knowledge evaporating from their brains. They’ve had no time to reflect, to connect what they’ve just learned with what they already know, or to use the knowledge they’ve gained in any way.

Allowing students to pause for thought, to use their new knowledge to teach each other, or to answer questions on the day’s topics is one of the simplest ways to increase retention.

WRITING

Like talking and active listening, writing provides a means for students to process new information in their own words. It is particularly effective in large classrooms where dividing students into pairs or groups may be prohibitive. It also appeals to individuals who prefer to learn independently.

READING

Students do a great deal of their learning through reading, but they often receive little instruction in how to read effectively. Active learning exercises such as summary and note checks can help students process what they’ve read and help them develop the ability to focus on important information.

BASIC ELEMENTS OF ACTIVE LEARNING

There are four basic activities through which all students learn, and specific active learning strategies use one or more of these elements.

CATEGORIES OF ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES

There are four broad categories of learning strategies that one might use in an active learning classroom :
4
Individual activities
2
Paired activities
3
Informal small groups
1
Cooperative student projects
The choice of these depends on the size of the class, the physical space, learning objectives, the amount of time for an activity, and the comfort level with the strategy. Many of the Active Learning Strategies listed in our workshop can be adapted to individuals, pairs, or groups.

Why we do, what we do?

The higher primary and pre-secondary is a very crucial age group. These are the formative years in one’s life. Most of the concepts and verticals of the academia are introduced during this time. This age group also witnesses the steep increment in rational thinking of the brain (grey cells). Unfortunately this age group also tends to be the most stressful age group as well for many students in India.