A teacher’s main aim in class is to
impart information to the children so that they can understand and retain it.
Part of doing this effectively is understanding how best to reach the children,
their psychology. There are two learning methods: Active Learning and Passive
Learning. One method is not exactly a better way to go than the other; as the
saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks”. So let us go over the pros
and cons of each method.
Active learning allows for the learner’s participation in the instructional process using various techniques. This usually occurs through discussion and collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking. Active learning promotes a deep, conceptual understanding of a topic.
Active learning promotes divergent
thinking, helping the student think broader than individual concepts, trying
instead to see the big picture. This enables the student to draw connections to
their lives and the real world. Also, the teacher is always getting feedback
from the learners, allowing him/her to make necessary corrections and get
ongoing analysis of the student.
Possible benefits of Active Learning
- It increases
- It provides
frequent feedback on a student’s comprehension of the material.
- It gives the
student a larger role in their learning environment.
- It increases
- It stimulates
Potential disadvantages are
- Require more spontaneous and flexible lesson plans.
- Limit the amount of material that can be presented at once.
- Create the potential for distractions if students are not monitored.
This learning method
involves the student simply listening and absorbing information from the teacher
in a rather one-sided exchange. It might be in the form of lectures in
classrooms or assigned reading assignments. The onus here is more on the
student to completely internalize the information he/she is receiving from the
Passive learning promotes defining,
describing, listening, and writing skills. This process initiates convergent
thinking, where a given question typically has only one correct answer.
Normally, instructors will test students’ understanding through quizzes,
assessments, and handouts.
Benefits of Passive Learning might include
- Quickly presents
a variety of information.
- Allows lecture
notes to be pre-planned and reused.
- Gives the
professor more control over course delivery.
- Provides a
concrete and organized presentation of the material.
Some disadvantages of Passive Learning include
- May appear
boring or unrelatable.
- Presents fewer
opportunities to assess student comprehension.
- Students are
more likely to shy away from voicing a misunderstanding.
- Students are
less involved in the learning experience.
Promoting Active Learning
While both learning types are necessary, it at times seems like Active Learning is overlooked in schools. This might be due to the amount of work required on the part of the instructors to prepare and deliver material using this method. But one thing should be noted: Both teaching methods are important and complementary and should be incorporated into the learning process.
There are a few things that
you can do to combine both learning methods effectively:
- Have students
complete assigned readings at home and take active notes on themes, questions,
and important quotes. At the start of class, have students self-organize into
small groups to share their ideas. Finally, have one person from each group
present either a quote or question and explain why they thought it was
- After a role
play, debate, or game, create a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key
points. This presentation helps highlight key information for synthesis and
connects the dots between what occurred during an active learning exercise and
the lesson plan.
- After a long
lecture, have students individually write down five test question predictions. In
small groups, have them put together a mini-assessment with the best questions.
After the mini-tests are written, have students swap tests with another group,
take the tests, and see how well they score.
Like was mentioned at the
start of this article, different strokes for different folks. Incorporate both
methods and watch your learners learn better!