Active teaching, defined as engaging students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, is far more effective than passively listening to a lecture, according to a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The authors found that 34% of students failed their course under traditional lecturing, compared to 22% of students under active learning. This suggests that, just in the studies that they analyzed, 3,500 more students would have passed their courses if taught with active learning.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The authors of this study pointed out that, were it a medical study, “an effect size this large and statistically significant would warrant stopping the study and administering the treatment to everyone in the study.” In other words, were this a matter of your health, boring college lectures would cease immediately and you could start actually doing something in class. You would also get better grades: “Picture a student in a traditional lecture class who scored higher than 50% of the students on the exam. If the same student were taught with active learning instead, they would score higher than 68% of the students in this lecture class.”