New Evidence on the Value of Active Learning

Research suggests once students become accustomed to active learning, they appreciate it more than passive learning.

A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that not only do students learn more through active learning, but that initially they may believe they are learning more through passive learning! 

This is the key takeaway from the article:

Students in active classrooms learned more (as would be expected based on prior research), but their perception of learning, while positive, was lower than that of their peers in passive environments. This suggests that attempts to evaluate instruction based on students’ perceptions of learning could inadvertently promote inferior (passive) pedagogical methods. For instance, a superstar lecturer could create such a positive feeling of learning that students would choose those lectures over active learning. Most importantly, these results suggest that when students experience the increased cognitive effort associated with active learning, they initially take that effort to signify poorer learning.

The good news: There is evidence that once students become accustomed to active learning, they appreciate it.

An advantage of a school based on active learning such as ATI is that students gradually become accustomed to active learning as the norm. It is a fundamental mindshift for some students coming from conventional environments, but a mindshift that is well worth making. At ATI, we create communities at which students both enjoy the active learning and learn more -- the best of both worlds!

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