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Active Learning vs. Passive Learning

Active learning is a student-centered approach to education that engages students with the topics that they are learning through problem-solving, creating, discussing, or investigating. In contrast, passive learning describes the more “traditional” style of instruction, in which students absorb information through lectures and reading. While each of these learning styles has its own advantages, more classrooms are beginning to adopt active learning practices to improve students’ critical thinking skills, retention of class material, and ability to synthesize information.

Benefits of Active Learning

  • Increased engagement with material

  • Collaboration with peers

  • Improved critical thinking skills

  • Higher learning retention

  • Increased motivation to learn

  • Boosted creativity in problem-solving

Examples of Active Learning in the Classroom

  • Think Pair Share: Students are given time to reflect on a question or prompt, discuss it with a few of their peers, then contribute to a class discussion.

  • Role Play: Students are assigned a character to play and encouraged to creatively solve problems within a specific situation.

  • Case Study: Students are given a real-world issue that relates to the class topic and are asked to work in a group to formulate possible solutions.

Incorporating Active Learning Into Study Sessions

Active learning isn’t limited to the classroom! Here are ways to engage students during a study session:

  • Minute Summary: Ask the student to summarize the most important things that they learned in one minute or less.

  • Teach Me: Ask the student to explain the content to you like you’re a student and they are the teacher.

  • Pause Procedure: During a lesson or story, pause every 2-3 minutes to ask questions about the content, answer any questions from the student, or ask them to act it out.

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