Use active learning frequently to include students in the construction of their own knowledge.

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Goal:

  • Students contribute to the learning process rather than be passive to it.

Reason:

  • Active learning is a powerful instructional method that engages students in the learning process and requires students complete meaningful activities, such as turning thoughts into words and then sharing these ideas with others. These active-learning activities promotes analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content.
  • Research shows that student performance increases in active-learning courses!
    • The performance increase is especially clear with underrepresented groups in computing, women, students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students.
  • The high-pressure atmosphere of lectures may discourage students from volunteering to answer questions and impair their performance when they are called on.
    • This is particularly true for females, minority, low-income, and first-generation students.
    • The same 2014 study that found an increase in student performance found that less than 40 percent of responses to instructor questions in the observed classes were from women, but women made up 60 percent of the students in these classes.

Action:

  • Use active learning assignments in-class and out-of-class to promote students' engagement with the material.
  • Regularly provide opportunities for students to discuss and debate with each other in a collaborative, low-pressure environment.
  • Administer frequent quizzes that require students to retrieve knowledge from memory rather than passively read it over in a textbook.
    • Such quizzes have been shown to improve retention of factual material by all students.