Active Learning involves an approach to instruction that focuses the responsibility of learning on the students and requires active cognitive processing (more than passively receiving information). It can be “anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing” (Bonwell & Eison, 1991, p. 2). However, the thinking should move beyond recall of information. Active Learning should develop students’ skills, attitudes, and content knowledge (all three) as they engage in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, synthesis, design, and evaluation. Active Learning requires students to do the cognitive work by reading, writing, discussing, analyzing, and/or solving problems.
There are numerous instructional approaches and techniques to create active learning in the classroom. Often in active learning, students are engaged in working in pairs or small groups. The pairs and group work facilitate talking, reflecting, and thinking.
Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of Active Learning on faculty productivity, student performance and student learning. Well-designed and implemented courses that are predominately organized around Active Learning are distinctive and often perceived of value.
Many Mines faculty members are working hard to increase active learning in their course. Click below to read a case study about different courses that are intentionally designed to promote active learning.