Intro to Active Learning


[ Music ]>>Hi! I’m Kathryn Spilios. I’m the Director of Instructional Labs in the
Department of Biology at Boston University, and I’m going to talk to you
today about active learning. And so what I’m going to present to you in the next few minutes is just a quick
overview of what this module will entail. So first let’s just take a step back
and think about the typical experience in a lecture scenario or
in any classroom scenario. Quite often there is one person up at front who
is teaching, and they are conveying information in a manner in which they might think is very
clear, when in reality your students may, in fact, have very different ideas
of what you’re talking about, if they have any idea what
you’re talking about at all. In fact, some of them may be, who knows,
sleeping or looking out the window. Their minds could be all over the place. Active learning is one way to engage your
students to help them fully understand and, and gain a deeper sense of the
information that you are conveying. So I’m going to present to you a very
simple definition of active learning, and that’s active learning is anything
that involves students doing things or thinking about what they are doing. So I think any of us could have written
that definition by ourselves, right? I mean that is very straightforward. You take the words active and learning and you
put them together, and that’s what you have. Now, a little bit later in this
module, you’ll be reading a paper by Scott Freeman, which was
published in, in 2014. And in that paper they present a concensus
definition, so I’m not going to share that definition with you, but
I do want you to pay attention to that overall concensus definition and,
and how that definition was arrived at. So I want to share with you an interesting
piece of data that was just published by the National Center for
Biotechnology Information. They found that in the year 2000 the attention
span of humans was right around 12 seconds, and that has dropped precipitously to a
length of eight seconds in the year 2013. This is likely due to the proliferation of
various things that are grabbing our attentions, whether it’s social media or
technology or, well, you name it, and I’m sure you could name everything
that’s vying for your attention. Now, think about how this
will play out in a classroom. If our students really do have that attention
span that lasts for about eight seconds, we, as instructors, have to be continually
refining how we are communicating with our students to ensure
that they are engaged. And now those researchers were also
looking at some comparative studies, and one thing that they found was that our
attention span, humans, with eight seconds, is actually one second shorter
than that of the goldfish. So our students may, in fact, have a
shorter attention span than the goldfish. So I want to provide a framework
that you’ve seen before in prior videos, and that’s Bloom’s taxonomy. And so we will be using this framework
as we discuss active learning. And so by employing various means to engage
our students, we’re giving them the tools to build their ideas from
simple to complex and also to go from concrete information to abstract reasoning. So let’s take a step back and think
about what active learning is giving to our students as a whole in a big picture. Not only are we encouraging their engagement,
we’re also giving them the opportunity to reinforce concepts and
skills that they are learning. Through active learning techniques, we’re
also giving them immediate feedback, whether it’s from you as the
instructor or from their peers in class. And by working with their peers, we
are fostering a community of learners. And by doing so, we’re also giving
our students the opportunity to create personal connections to the material. And by doing so, we’re giving our
students ownership over some material. And when our students own material,
it enables them to dive deeper and really form those lasting
meaningful learning opportunities. And so I’m going to stop with that list, but
I encourage you to, to take a moment and think about what active learning can do for you as
an instructor as well as for your students. So here’s a quick overview
of how our module is set up. Of course we’re talking about active
learning, but within that we’ve broken it down to two topics, critical
thinking and teamwork. So within critical thinking, we’ll
first look at problem-based learning. Problem-based learning is a teaching approach
that challenges students to learn the concepts and principles by applying
them to real-life problems. Within inquiry-based labs, we’re giving
students the opportunity to engage in many of the same activities and thought
processes as scientists conducting research. Cooperative learning is the use of small groups so that students working together are maximizing
their own as well as their peer’s learning. And peer instruction gives our students
the opportunity to articulate, defend, and refine their ideas as well as
solutions to, to problems within the class. And then finally, we will end with a
discussion on assessing active learning and also assessment using
active learning techniques. So the next steps in this module is
to read the paper by Scott Freeman that I mentioned just a minute
ago, and then we’ll ask you to post on a discussion board as well. But before you go, I want to leave you
with a Chinese proverb, and that is tell me and I forget, teach me and I
remember, involve me, and I learn. [ Music ]

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