Thursday, April 7, 2011

Active Learning - Creating Excitement in the Classroom

Bonwell, C, & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning - creating excitement in the classroom. Washington DC: The George Mason University, School of Education and Human Development.

This book examines active learning and why it is considered to be important in the classroom. A large part of the initial section of the book focuses on what active learning actually is. Bonwell suggests here that active learning goes beyond students actually listening actively, but constitutes an attempt by students to be involved in reading, writing, discussion, and problem solving. He also says that students must be involved in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation during lesson time.

Bonwell shows that active learning is superior to all other types of learning because it involves students in “doing things and thinking about what they are doing”. The book also shows through studies that students prefer strategies that have them “doing” and that this has a significantly positive impact on their learning. This source examines how active learning can be incorporated into a classroom and it also provides a thorough examination of the barriers that exist to incorporating active learning into a classroom.

Quotes:
Anyone who has taught a large class is aware of the physical and emotional constraints upon both the instructor and students… it is not surprising that, in these circumstances, professors who might otherwise use methods encouraging active learning revert to presenting formal 50-minute lectures without significant discussion” (14).

“Because large classes decrease the possibility of individual participation, some instructors ask for written questions, while others successfully use various options for holding discussions with a small portion of the students in the class” (17).

Sources:
Astin, Alexander W. 1985. Achieving Educational Excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Bligh, Donald A. 1972. What’s the use of Lectures? Baltimore: Penguin Books

2 comments:

Stacey Caillier said...

"Bonwell suggests here that active learning goes beyond students actually listening actively, but constitutes an attempt by students to be involved in reading, writing, discussion, and problem solving. He also says that students must be involved in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation during lesson time"

"This source examines how active learning can be incorporated into a classroom and it also provides a thorough examination of the barriers that exist to incorporating active learning into a classroom."

Great - tell us more here! This is great stuff and the more details you write down now, the easier it will be later. For example, give us/yourself the details of how they say active learning can be incorporated in the classroom, what does it look like, and what are the specific barriers?

Kali Frederick said...

Bonwell, Charles C. and Eison, James A. (1991.) “Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom.” National Teaching and Learning Forum. Retrieved from http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/bib/91-9dig.htm.

(I read a condensed version of this text.)
Lectures dominate many high school and college students’ experiences. This article provides a general definition and support for active learning. The authors argue that students must be engaged in more than just listening if they are to truly learn. The article goes on to suggest a few methods that could be used to enhance student learning. It also addresses the concern that some faculty members might not be ready or willing to change their method of instruction.

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