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Why Use Active Learning?

Active Learning is one of the seven principles established in "Seven principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (1987, AAHE Bulletin). In The Seven principles in Action, Susan Rickey Hatfield, editor, David G. Brown and Curtis W. Ellison explain:

"Active Learning is not merely a set of activities, but rather an attitude on the part of both students and faculty that makes learning effective The objective of Active Learning is to stimulate lifetime habits of thinking to stimulate students to think about HOW as well as WHAT they are learning and to increasingly take responsibility for their own education." (p 40)

Mel Silberman contrasts Active Learning and memorization:

"real learning is not memorization. Most of what we memorize is lost in hours. Learning can't be swallowed whole. To retain what has been taught, students must chew on it."

Silberman explains that learning comes "in waves" through repeated exposures of different kinds involving multiple senses. "When learning is active, the learner is seeking something an answer to a question, information to solve a problem, or a way to do a job." (p "???)

Many Active Learning strategies involve collaboration with peers, providing a secure environment for growth and exploration of ideas. "What a student discusses with others and what a student teaches others enable him or her to acquire understanding and master learning." (Silberman, p6)


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