An active and collaborative learning style includes any learning that centers on student engagement, often through activities that focus on student collaboration and increased student involvement. This style of teaching is also referred to as student centered or learner centric. The data from a number of scholarly studies indicate that courses where pedagogies centered on active and collaborative learning are employed have significantly improved student outcomes, including fewer drops, fails and repeats and better preparedness for advanced study than their more lecture-centric counterparts.
Is active learning worth the extra effort? Recent research (see below) supports the efficacy of active learning methods.
- “Enough With the Lecturing” - The largest and most comprehensive analysis ever published of studies comparing lecturing to active learning in undergraduate education, found a difference of 55 percent higher failure rate for non-active learning STEM courses. - National Science Foundation article, May 12, 2014.
- “Avoid Passive Learning” – Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburg LearnLab’s well-supported summary on techniques that support the effectiveness of active learning methods.
Active and collaborative teaching and learning strategies are already being utilized in distance education and in classrooms where physical layouts allow for it at the University of Idaho. Since it began evaluating classroom demand and feedback on renovations, the Classroom Strategic Planning Workgroup has noted increased demand for technology, flexible furnishings and additional writing surfaces. Classroom improvements that have allowed for students to perform group work and the instructor to circulate more freely to interact with students have been highly rated by faculty and students alike.
The College of Education’s Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning is funding the formation of an Active Learning Discussion Circle to support active learning on campus. The formation of this group is in response to the overwhelming number of requests the Classroom Strategic Planning Workgroup has received for flexible learning spaces with moveable furniture. Another purpose for the discussion circle is to prepare interested faculty for teaching in the three high tech active learning classrooms that will be available in the new College of Education Building. Active learning tends to get students more involved in the class as active participants which we feel will also support retention efforts within the university.
We invite all UI employees who are interested in active learning to join this discussion circle because this type of learning has an impact beyond the classroom.
The first Active Learning Discussion Circle will begin meeting early in the fall semester and will utilize two books to support discussions. If you are interested in the joining the Active Learning Discussion Circle, contact Cassidy Hall, Interim Director of the Doceo Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-885-9084.