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benefits of active learning

Benefits of active learning that enhance any academic journey

16 December, 2021

Active learning is related to developing collaboration skills, building emotional intelligence and training children's creative and critical thinking. The benefits of active learning are related to developing collaborative skills, building emotional intelligence and creativity.

Active learning can be a starting point for instructional design as it consists of problem-solving, exploration of real-life situations, and concrete involvement of learners in the learning process. It is complementary to passive learning, as it stimulates the learner to connect previous information with newly acquired information and leads him/her to find alternative solutions for certain situations and contexts. 

Benefits of active learning to pay attention to

In their research on educational approaches centered on active learning, Grunert O'Brien, Millis, and Cohen found that students learn more when:
  • Discuss a topic with their mentor and peers
  • Are stimulated to build their own beliefs and guided to compare these with observations from practical activities 
  • Collaboration and communication are key elements built into the learning process
  • Viewing and reading are accompanied by in-depth conversations and when they apply what they have learned
  • The relevance of new learning is visible and they manage to connect it with learning experiences before this point
  • The teacher does not just deliver theoretical content but supports the learner towards self-learning. 
Thus, the benefits of active learning focus on the development of sustainable skills, which will benefit children in the long term, during the entire educational journey, and beyond.

1. Develops collaboration skills

Collaboration is an essential pillar of the active learning approach. By working together in teams, students develop their social and communication skills and understand the need for group work in everyday life and the challenges that accompany these experiences.

When pupils learn to collaborate and work more closely in teams, they find it easier to complete the tasks and projects they are assigned. Teamwork also allows them to gain more knowledge by pooling their ideas. 

2. Encourages risk-taking

Active learning creates an environment that puts learners in a position to take individual or group decisions. Confidence in one's strengths is strengthened as the learner feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and arguing their opinions. Active learning shows learners that risk is not always a bad thing: it can sometimes bring surprising rewards.

3. Increases engagement

Active learners demonstrate greater engagement in the learning process and a greater desire to learn new skills. Often in active learning, the concept of the flipped classroom is used, where students learn about a topic and develop a set of questions and curiosities before the teacher's lecture. This increases student engagement and motivation and creates an environment for an active learning process. 

4. Stimulates critical thinking

In a world where fake news has become part of our daily discourse, the ability to identify a legitimate source or detect a flawed argument becomes increasingly important. Active learning shifts the focus - from passively (and possibly unquestioningly) digesting information, to being thoughtful about the sources and perspectives you come into contact with. In active learning, learners can construct stronger arguments, challenge assumptions and recognize credible and valid sources of information.

5. Stimulates creative thinking

Creativity is one of the key skills needed for the workplace of the future and one of the hardest to train through traditional methods. Active learning helps learners to see creativity not as an innate value, but as a tool that we train and develop throughout life. Through active learning, students will understand that they need to work hard to hone their creative thinking skills. 

6. Problem-solving

By fostering problem-solving skills, students learn to look at challenges from a new, more flexible perspective. When children tackle problems on their own or in groups, they become anchored in their tasks. The stages of problem-solving can be made up of active learning methods, which are: identifying the problem, finding the causes, defining solutions and alternative solutions, implementing them, and evaluating the process.

7. Developing emotional intelligence

The introduction of active learning methods in applications with students brings with it benefits in the three components of emotional intelligence: understanding emotions, expressing emotions, and emotional self-regulation. Active learning enables the shaping of an educational environment conducive to the expression of students' opinions, emotions, and feelings.

Active learning positively influences a learner's learning experience. They must take the initiative to be fully engaged in the classroom and be aware of their learning journey. When active learning is practiced, the learner succeeds in developing collaborative, reflective, and problem-solving skills, understands the importance of active engagement in learning, and becomes more motivated to develop their key competences. 

Thus, active learning, as the name suggests, is a strategy that involves dynamic role-taking, participation, and reflection on the part of learners. There is a long list of benefits that the introduction of active learning methods has; the most important being: stimulating critical and creative thinking, increasing engagement and risk-taking, and developing collaborative and communication skills among students.

How does our brain work when we apply active learning methods?

How our brains function during active learning is a fascinating process. To understand why active learning works so effectively, it's helpful to know that when our brains decide what to retain, they ask two fundamental questions:

  1. Can I understand this information?
  2. Do I need to know this in the future?

When we ask, "Can I understand this?" our brains always place new information on the foundation of existing knowledge. If that foundation is missing, our brains don't know what to do with it and, as a result, discard it. In other words, our brains need to create fundamental neural connections for new information to attach, which is why active learning involves more mental effort but is essential for learning.

When we ask whether we "need to know this information," our brains distinguish between material they consider worth remembering and material they can forget. If it's unlikely that the new information will be used again, our brains are clever enough to discard it.

If our brains believe the information will be needed again in the future, such as if it could potentially earn us more money, they store it in long-term memory. To keep it there and readily accessible in short-term memory, all we need to do is use it or periodically think about it. This is why active learning and ongoing engagement with the material are vital for long-term retention and application.

How Kinderpedia supports active learning and the transition to a modern classroom

Kinderpedia supports active learning by making it easy for teachers to provide students with a variety of interactive and engaging resources that encourage them to take an active role in their own learning. Also, it keeps parents connected and engaged in students’ education.  It allows schools to gather and analyse data at different levels, with the purpose of improving learning, as well as the overall teaching practice.



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