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.
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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So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning