Dee Fink distinguished between passive and active learning. Passive learning involves students receiving information and ideas. In comparison, active learning engages students by providing rich learning experiences (doing, observing) and in-depth reflective dialog (with self and others). As an instructor, we should make an effort to design our class activities to provide such affordances that enable active learning.
Figure 1. Passive and Active Learning
Adapted from Fink, D. A Self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. 2003
For more information about active learning, please refer to the following resources:
- Brief information on active learning by Dee Fink
- Fink, D. A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning
- Graffam, B. (2007). Active learning in medical education: Strategies for beginning implementation. Medical Teacher, 29, 38-42.
- Saroyan, A. & Snell, L. S. (1997). Variations in lecturing styles. Higher Education, 33, 85-104. (Google Scholar link to the article).
Engaging students in lectures
Nine Events of Instruction How do you plan for a class? How do you arrange all the activities in a class? One way to plan your class session is by following the Nine Events of Education advanced by educational psychologist Robert Gagne. Figure 2 is an illustration of the nine events of instruction:
For an explanation of the Nine Events of Instruction, please visit the following resources:
- Theory into Practice website: Conditions of learning http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/conditions-learning.html
- Gagne’s 9 events of instruction, by University of Florida Center for Instructional Technology & Training http://www.citt.ufl.edu/toolbox/toolbox_gagne9Events.php
Figure 3. Bookend Procedure (adapted from Carl Smith, 2000, Going deeper: Formal small-group learning in large classes, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 81) Questioning & discussion
- Answering and asking questions, by William Cashin from the Kansas State University http://www.theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/Idea_Paper_31.pdf
- Improving discussions, by William Cashin & Philip McKnight from the Kansas State University http://www.theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/Idea_Paper_15.pdf
- The dreaded discussion: 10 ways to start, by Peter Frederick from the Indiana University http://www.indiana.edu/~tchsotl/part%201/part1%20materials/The_Dreaded_Discussion.pdf
- Facilitating group discussions, by Dr. Melissa Medina from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center: http://www.ouhsc.edu/portals/1044/Assets/Documents/Presentation%20Resources/2003-2004/July%202003%20EGR%20Overview.pdf
Alternatives to lectures
In addition to lecturing, there are some alternative ways of teaching, for example, case studies, problem-based learning, collaboratively learning,
Case & Problem-based Learning
- National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (University of Buffalo)
- Team-based learning (University of Central Missouri)
- Collaborative learning: Group work and study teams (University of California, Berkeley)