Active Learning in the Classroom
Structured Classroom Debates – These debates are set around a given topic selected by the instructor. They are designed to allow students to practice their critical thinking skills, build their argumentative stance by providing sound explanations for their main point of view. It also might be a bit more challenging if a student is instructed to support an opinion opposite their own.
Decision Making Activities – Students are asked to be creative and imagine themselves as policy-makers that make tough decisions for a given body of people. The instructor gives a student or group of students a short description or scenario. Then, they are told to choose a path that would be most beneficial for all involved. This choice is backed with reasoning and well-thought out responses when sharing with the larger group.
Role Play/Simulation – Role play and simulation activities are all about bringing the real-world to the classroom. There are indeed a range of advantages to including these in your classes. First, it engages the learners into the topic and gives meaning to the content. Secondly, the students are able to view the content from multiple perspectives. For instance, two small groups may be given the same topic or scenario but portray it differently.
The “One” Minute Paper – This short writing assignment would be a way to formatively assess students on their knowledge of the content, prior to any class discussion. The instructor gives the students a prompt or ask an open-ended question for students to respond. It is suggested that this exercise be completed at the beginning of the class period then have students discuss in small groups their thoughts and reflections of the activity. During this time it is recommended that the instructor roams about the classroom to observe and listen to discussions.
There are some concerns that a flipped classroom brings. First, it is important that the students are held accountable for the course content. No matter the activities you choose for your active learning classroom, it is imperative to set clear expectations from the beginning and have a way to individually formatively assess the students to ensure that students are continually reviewing the content as instructed.
Kurt Lewin once said, “Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.”