Have you ever sat in a classroom while being lectured and almost fell asleep? Yeah, me too. This can happen to all of us at some point, especially if it’s a subject we’re not interested in, and the teacher is just rambling on and on, and we’re watching the clock, waiting for the 50 minutes to be up. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. If schools used active learning in place of lectures, classes wouldn’t be as boring for students. As opposed to the less effective method of lecturing, active learning engages students and gives them tools such as problem-solving abilities to increase their knowledge. Active learning can work in any school district with any budget; it can boost grades and raise students creativity — all of these ties in to make a better learner.
Active learning is an approach to education that engages all students. This can be done in a big or small school, in a rich or poor area. In “Project Classroom Makeover,” author Cathy Davidson shows how active learning involves students, gives them more resources, and helps them retain information better. Davidson compares the Duke University iPod experiment to a three-room schoolhouse in Mountain View, Canada, to show how active learning can be successful in all environments, regardless of resources. The iPod experiment was Duke trying to implement creativity into its curriculum. They gave iPod to all incoming students and asked them to design programs to help them study or do better in their classes. At first, Duke ’s iPod experiment was questioned and looked down upon because the iPod was seen as an expensive toy simply made to listen to music. However, once people saw the actual benefits coming out of it, they saw all of the possibilities that come from using iPods. Davidson states, “In a short span, the message had changed from how could anyone use that device for learning to this device facilitates sophisticated academic research.” The critics had seen how getting students involved with a more creative process made them want to learn more. Some examples of this were in the music and medical departments. In the music department, “...composing students uploaded compositions to their iPods so fellow students could listen and critique” ( 67) This would drive students to do better because they are now getting feedback from multiple people, and when the whole class is listening, who wouldn’t want to do well? In the chapter, Davidson talks about the benefits from other departments. Like in the medical department students had the chance to listen to heart arrhythmias and use them to match it to what they heard in a patient's chest. This gives the incentive because now they have this device that lets them be hands-on in their field and learn something.
Davidson shows how active learning can work in any environment, regardless of resources, by including the example of Mrs. Davidson’s three-room schoolhouse in Mount View, Canada. Ms. Davidson was the author of “ProjectClassroom Makeover” Cathy Davidson’s mother-in-law. She told her many stories of how she implemented active learning into her class and how successful it was. They did not have the money or the resources that Duke had but was still able to make active learning work. Mrs. Davidson would have interactive learning competitions, and the children she taught would make sure that they learned the material so they could win. Another way she used active learning in her classroom was with multiple creative projects, such as pen pal letters. The students had to find other cities named Mountain Views in the world. One kid found another in China and had a local Chinese immigrant teach him how to read and write in Chinese. From this project, Davidson asserts that “They learned geography, anthropology, and foreign languages too.” Therefore, from this one project that was fun for the kids, they were able to learn many valuable lessons and skills for life. Both examples prove active learning is more beneficial than traditional lectures.
Another problem that comes from not having active learning is the lack of creativity in students. When students are not given a chance to actively participate in group activities or by doing anything other than sitting and listen to someone teach, they don't have the opportunity ever to learn creativity. If you didn’t know creativity is one of the top qualities employers look for, the article “Why creativity in the classroom matters more than ever now” by Kristen Hicks, it says “ In a 2010 survey of over 1,500 executives found that creativity is valued as the most important business skill in the modern world.” If the people who would be hiring you say you should be able to think creatively, I think that means its an important skill. It’s something students of all ages can learn if active learning is implemented in the classroom. The same article, “Why Creativity in the Classroom Matters More Than Ever Now” by Kristen Hicks, she gives strategies on how it can be implemented. One being letting them have free reign on how their project can look, “You can provide them the subject cover to cover, but give them some freedom in how they complete it… even better have them mix and match formats.” This is just one simple example of getting students to think creatively on their own while having active learning by making them present it or work with others. Creativity and active learning help stimulate your brain. Active learning can teach creativity, by having students participate in activities that make them think and get them involved, it can build creative thinking. The article “The Creative Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman states University of New Mexico neuroscientist Rex Jung has concluded that those who diligently practice creative activities learn to recruit their brains’ creative networks quicker and better. A lifetime of consistent habits gradually changes the neurological pattern.” Overall students should have active learning in classrooms to make them more creative and learn better for their time in class and the real world.
Surprisingly, some people are against active learning and suggest it’s not helpful for students. For example, in “Lecture Me. Really.” Molly Worthen states, “Lectures are essential for teaching the humanities’ most basic skills: comprehension and reasoning, skills whose value extends beyond the classroom to the essential demands of working life and citizenship.” Even though she believes lecturing is the best way to teach and believes it instills values beyond the classroom, statistics prove otherwise. From the article “Medical School Without The Sage On Stage” by Lenny Bernstein there is statistical evidence to prove active learning is better than lectures. Bernstein states, “A team of researchers analyzed 225 studies that compared active learning vs. lectures, and they found test scores improved 6% for students in active learning classes.” That 6% improvement could be some students way to jump from a B+ to A. Why wouldn’t we want that?
In conclusion, active learning is more beneficial to students than the traditional lecture. Active learning helps the student learn and retain knowledge better, and it helps improve their creativity which is something needed in today’s work environment. Overall we should switch to active learning because why would we want students to fall behind when could be pushing them forward
Berstein, Larry. "Medical School Without The Sage On Stage". July 29th, 2017
Bronson, Po. Merryman, Ashley. "The Creativity Crisis". July 10th, 2010
Davidson, Cathy. "Now You See It"
Hicks, Kristen. ' Why Creativity In The Classroom Matters More Now Than Ever". March 17th, 2015
Worthen, Molly. "Lecture Me. Really." October 7th, 2015
Image credit to Ellis Hall via google images