Queen's Active Learning Classrooms


Active Learning Classrooms

Active Learning Classrooms

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Why do Active Learning?

Reviews of the literature (Freeman et. al, 2014Prince, 2004; Michael, 2006) show extensive empirical support for active learning.

Freeman et. al's (2014) meta-analysis of 225 studies comparing active learning approaches with traditional lecturing showed improved exam scores and decreased failure rates for active learning. The authors write, “If the experiments analyzed here had been conducted as randomized controlled trials of medical interventions, they may have been stopped for benefit—meaning that enrolling patients in the control condition might be discontinued because the treatment being tested was clearly more beneficial."

Several research studies demonstrate the positive impact active learning can have upon students' learning outcomes:

  • Increased content knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and positive attitudes towards learning in comparison to traditional lecture-based delivery (Anderson et al, 2005)
  • Increased enthusiasm for learning in both students and instructors (Thaman et al., 2013)
  • Development of graduate capabilities such as critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, communication and interpersonal skills (Kember & Leung, 2005)
  • Improved student perceptions and attitudes towards information literacy (Deltor et al., 2012)
  • Check out the latest research on active learning featured in Active Learning in Higher Education.

Despite the wide range of positive benefits listed above, Michael (2006) articulates an important point: “active learning doesn’t just happen; it occurs in the classroom when the teacher creates a learning environment that makes it more likely to occur”. There are many active learning strategies for instructors to consider when they design their courses.