Active Learning

Principals Pen Thursday, 07 Oct 2021

Active learning involves students engaging in the learning process experientially. In an active learning environment, students are afforded a significant level of autonomy - which is often evidenced through voice and choice - and meaningful feedforward is crucial. Active learning manifests itself in many ways at Living Faith, perhaps most overtly through Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Mindset Maths.

Active learning is a departure from the traditional notion of schooling carried over from the industrial era, which views the teacher as a ‘sage on the stage’ who dispatches knowledge to students. The ‘sage on the stage’ teaches children what to think and typically leads to surface-level short-term knowledge retention, whereas active learning teaches children how to think and is shown to result in deep, long-term knowledge retention and skill development.

In 2019, I wrote an article entitled Deep Learning is Hard Work. I referenced a Harvard University study that found students learn more when engaged in an active learning classroom. The case for active learning has been supported time and time again over the years. It is reinforced, once again, by a new study released by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

This new study, released just days ago, recognises the adaptations made by educators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Researcher Dr Nesra Yannier acknowledges that ‘COVID forced educators to engage students in novel ways, and teachers were experimenting with new technology.’ She said of the study, ‘We wanted to see what we learned from teaching and learning during COVID and what could be brought back into the classroom.’

After collecting and analysing research into active learning, the study found that interactive activities, discussions, feedback and technologies result in improved academic performance when compared to traditional lectures, lessons and readings. The study went further to find that effective active learning methods use not only hands-on and minds-on approaches but also hearts-on approaches.

These findings essentially undermine the ‘sage on the stage’ approach to education, and, in a press release, the researchers shared their hope that their paper will move educators to incorporate more active learning into their lessons.

Under the Culture & Pedagogy tab of our website, we showcase Living Faith’s beliefs about learning, as well as our aspirations for graduating students. We strive for our graduating students to be:

  • collaborative;
  • self-directed;
  • adaptable;
  • resilient and determined;
  • creative;
  • problem-solvers; and
  • responsible leaders.
who have:
  • knowledge of themselves as learners;
  • service in their hearts;
  • social and emotional intelligence;
  • growth mindsets; and
  • joy founded on the love of Christ.

Active learning is one of the important ingredients in nurturing these ambitious and noble characteristics.

- Jane Mueller, Principal