Module 5: Active Learning

 

Active Learning

 

In this module, you’ll explore a variety of ways in which active learning can be incorporated into your classroom instruction. Module developers Kathryn Spilios and Bennett Goldberg will present the benefits of active learning as well as some creative strategies you might try in the classroom.

Please see the Facilitator Guide 2015 for Module 5 for some suggestions of activities you can do in your MCLC or classroom to dive deeper into these topics.

Introduction to Active Learning

 

Video 0.5.1 —  Week 5 Introduction

Dr. Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt University and Dr. Trina McMahon from the University of Wisconsin Introduce the concept of active learning.


Video 5.1.1 — Introduction to Active Learning 

Katherine Spilios from Boston University provides an introduction to the Module with a short overview of active learning.

Discussion: Describe your experience with active learning as a student. What are your worries about Active Learning as an instructor?

Video 5.1.1 Slides


Critical Thinking

 

Video 5.1.2 — The Cognitive Framework Behind Active Learning 

Katherine Spilios from Boston University provides a discussion of cognitive framework for active learning based on the work of Michelene Chi, mapping from passive, to active, to constructive to interactive learning in the classroom.

Video 5.1.2 Slides


Video 5.2.1 — Principles of Critical Thinking 

Based on the work of the National Council on Excellence in Critical Thinking, Dr. Bennett Goldberg from Boston University describes how critical thinking frames inquiry-based labs, the cycle of scientific inquiry and team, and project-based learning.

Video 5.2.1 Slides


Video 5.2.2 — Introduction to Problem Based Learning 

Rique Campa from Michigan State University introduces the cycle of inquiry that underlies problem-based learning.

Discussion: Describe the active learning approaches used in problem-based learning. Provide examples either from your experience or from thinking about how to remodel a traditional class unit with PBL.

Video 5.2.2 Slides


Video 5.2.3 — The Problem-Based Learning Process

Rique Campa from Michigan State University discusses the key steps in problem-based learning.

Video 5.2.3 Slides


Video 5.2.4 — Examples of Inquiry-Based Labs in Intro to Astronomy

Cynthia Brame from Vanderbilt University shows an example of an Inquiry-based lab in astronomy and analyzes the components.


Video 5.2.5 — Principles and Definitions of Inquiry-Based Labs 

Cynthia Brame from Vanderbilt University gives an overview of the key steps in creating and implementing inquiry-based labs.

Discussion: Describe the active learning approaches used in inquiry-based learning. Provide examples either from your experience or from thinking about how to remodel a traditional laboratory unit with IBL.

Video 5.2.5 Slides


Teamwork

 

Video 5.3.1 — Introduction to Cooperative Learning 

Rique Campa from Michigan State University defines cooperative learning as when students work together to analyze, solve, interpret, or synthesize knowledge/problems.

Video 5.3.1 Slides


Video 5.3.2 — Incorporating Active Learning in Your Classroom 

Dr. Bennett Goldberg from Boston University provides a brief introduction that shows several ways to implement cooperative learning in the classroom.

Video 5.3.2 Slides


Video 5.3.3 — Examples of Active Learning

Three short examples of peer instruction. Shot in classrooms at Harvard, Boston University, and Colorado Boulder, these examples show peer instruction in action.


 Video 5.3.4 — The Best Questions to Ask

Dr. Eric Mazur from Harvard University discusses what makes the best clicker or concept questions.


 Video 5.3.5 — Overcoming Barriers to Implementing Peer Instruction

Peter Newbury from University of California San Diego discusses faculty challenges to overcoming implementing peer instruction and suggests several solutions.

Discussion: Describe your experiences as a student with peer instruction. Discuss concerns about implementing peer instruction.


Assessment of Active Learning

 

 Video 5.4.1 —  Measuring Active Learning in Classrooms

Dr. Marco Molinaro from the University of California Davis and Dr. Bennett Goldberg from Boston University provide an introduction to how to measure the amount and type of active learning in classrooms using a simple, online tool called the Generalized Observation and Reflection Platform or GORP.


 Video 5.4.2 — Implementation GORP on Campus

Dr. Marco Molinaro from the University of California Davis and Dr. Nicholas Gross from Boston University discuss the challenges to implementing GORP in the classroom.


 Video 5.4.3 — Group Testing to Enhance Collaborative Learning

Katherine Spilios from Boston University interviews student and faculty from Boston University, eliciting their perspectives on group testing.


Video 0.5.2 — Week 5 Wrap Up

Discussion: Choose one active learning method and develop a list of characteristics that you might choose to record as part of an in-class observational protocol. Think of the list as the buttons in a GORP protocol for measuring the particular approach to active learning you choose.


 

Week 5 Peer-Graded Assignment

Introduction

For this peer-graded assignment, we’re asking you to draw connections between principle and practice.  First, describe a strategy for active learning instruction that you would like to implement in a future teaching context.  Then, respond to a series of questions about that strategy, one question for each of the learning principles addressed in Weeks 1 and 2.  Where the previous peer-graded assignment focused on content (learning objectives), this one focuses on the teaching and learning process.

Here are the questions you’ll be asked about the active learning strategy you choose:

When implementing the active learning strategy, what steps would you take to activate students’ prior knowledge in ways that would help them learn effectively?

How might you use the active learning strategy to help students develop more robust knowledge organizations in your domain?

What choices would you make when implementing the active learning strategy to make sure students had opportunities for practice and feedback?

When implementing the active learning strategy, what are two or three steps you could take to attend to the affective domain?

The structure of this peer-graded assignment is similar to that of a “jigsaw” cooperative learning activity.  In a typical jigsaw activity, students split into, say, four groups.  Each group investigates a different topic.  Then new groups are formed so that each new group has a representative from each of the original four groups.  Members of the new groups teach their groups about the four topics investigated earlier, resulting in students learning from and with each other.

In this peer-graded assignment, you’re likely to be asked to evaluate peer responses an active learning strategy you didn’t write about in your responses.  This is your chance to better understand a different teaching practice, while leveraging what you know about the four learning principles to provide useful feedback to your peers.

Implementation

Describe a strategy for active learning instruction that you would like to implement in a future teaching context.  Consider strategies discussed this week, as well as earlier in the course.  Mention the teaching context you have in mind—course, topic, student population, “lecture” or “lab” course, and so on—and provide sufficient detail so that a peer evaluator in another discipline will be able to assess your response.

We know that students’ prior knowledge and experiences shape how they make sense of new information.  When implementing the active learning strategy you described above, what steps would you take to activate students’ prior knowledge in ways that would help them learn effectively?  This might involve helping students bring to bear on a problem what they already know, or working to help students resolve existing misconceptions.

Rubric:

Excellent (4 points) – Identifies specific choices relevant to the teaching practice that would likely activate student prior knowledge in a useful way.

Good (3 points) – Identifies choices relevant to the teaching practice that would surface, but not necessarily respond to, student prior knowledge.

Fair (2 points) – Draws connections between the teaching practice and the prior knowledge principle, but in a vague or abstract way.

Poor (1 point) – No clear connection between the teaching practice and the prior knowledge principle.

Unacceptable (0 points) – No response.

 

We know that how students mentally organize their knowledge affects their ability to solve problems.  How might you use the active learning strategy you described above to help students develop more robust knowledge organizations in your domain?  Consider ways to help students identify and understand relationships among concepts and examples.

Rubric:

Excellent (4 points) – Identifies specific choices relevant to the teaching practice that would likely help students organize their knowledge.

Good (3 points) – Identifies ways the teaching practice might help students organize their knowledge, but without active student engagement.

Fair (2 points) – Draws connections between the teaching practice and knowledge organizations, but in a vague or abstract way.

Poor (1 point) – No clear connection between the teaching practice and knowledge organizations.

Unacceptable (0 points) – No response.

 

We know that learning new concepts or skills requires iterative practice and feedback.  What choices would you make when implementing the active learning strategy you described above to make sure students had opportunities for practice and feedback? 

Rubric:

Excellent (4 points) – Identifies specific choices relevant to the teaching practice that would provide students with meaningful practice and feedback.

Good (3 points) – Identifies specific choices relevant to the teaching practice that would provide students with practice but not useful feedback.

Fair (2 points) – Draws connections between the teaching practice and the idea of practice and feedback, but in an vague or abstract way.

Poor (1 point) – No clear connection between the teaching practice and the idea of practice and feedback.

Unacceptable (0 points) – No response.

We know that designing effective learning environments requires attention to the affective domain—feelings, values, beliefs, motivations.  When implementing the active learning strategy described above, what are two or three steps you could take to provide a more positive classroom climate?  Consider strategies for motivating students to learn, as well ways of fostering positive interdependence among students.

Rubric:

Excellent (4 points) – Identifies specific choices that would likely increase student motivation and help them learn from each other.

Good (3 points) – Identifies specific choices that would likely motivate students to learn, but not necessarily from each other.

Fair (2 points) – Draws connections between the teaching practice and the affective domain, but in a vague or abstract way.

Poor (1 point) – No clear connection between the teaching practice and the affective domain.

Unacceptable (0 points) – No response.

 

 

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