Engagement with materials: apparent development of constructs  Active learning is of vital importance to maximising achievement. ‘Active learning’ describes learning activities in which students are engaged in developing their understanding. They are not passive recipients of information, but interact with knowledge and ideas in order to create meaning- they create and develop their own constructs. The role of the teacher and the learner in active learning methods is summarised in the table to the left, taken from the Curriculum for Northern Ireland document on Active Learning at KS3. Efficacy of Learning Methods? You’ll find images similar to those shown below scattered across the internet. They attempt to show Edgar Dales ‘Cone of Experience’ linked to spurious claims about how well learners remember using each approach: The diagram is further flawed in that it shows reading, listening, watching video media and going on trips to all be examples of passive learning. Passive learning is learning in which students merely receive information and are not expected to engage with it- engagement meaning the manipulation and processing of the content. Those activities listed as passive in the graphic device above could easily be made to be active if the learners were expected to engage with the materials they are exposed to in an active way, a way that required them to process the information they were receiving. Active learning strategies that can be applied to a wide range of scenarios can be accessed via the links on the left of this page. Effect Sizes Robert Marzano’s work is potentially of greater utility in the assessment of effect sizes for active learning. Marzano provides robust effect size measures for a wide range of individual active learning classroom activities. Hattie (2009) describes an intricate active teaching approach termed ‘Direct Instruction’ to which he ascribes an effect size of d=0.59. He goes as far as stating that, for mainstream students, the effect size is d=0.99! Petty (2009) considers a range of definitions for active teaching approaches, and settles on the view that the name used doesn’t matter- it’s the interactivity that counts. He ascribes an effect size of d=0.81 for active teaching approaches under the label of, “Whole-class interactive teaching”. I have yet to work out which study that effect size was derived from.
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