Students in a traditional lecture course are 1.5 times more likely to fail, compared to students in courses with active learning. 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. By conservative estimates, this would have saved the students about 3.5 million dollars in tuition. The authors point out that, were this 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.
According to this Study (done at the college level):
- Students say they prefer lectures to “active” instruction (where students are engaged/involved through
activity, discourse, and formative assessment)
- Students say they learn more from lectures than “active” instruction
- They’re wrong!: in all cases (controlling for confounding variables), students learned more from the “active”
instruction settings than passive/lecture
Why is this significant? The study suggests that students “feel” like they aren’t learning as much from active instruction because the
cognitive load is much higher there… the struggle makes them feel like they’re not learning, when in fact, it’s the
opposite. Feeling good about a topic because you’ve been told a good story doesn’t mean you learned as much.
This also suggests that teachers should be doing more (at the high school level) to prepare students for this type of
instruction in college, which is much more prevalent now than in the past.
Researchers have devoted decades to studying how to study. Drawing on the results of nearly 400 prior studies, only two techniques got the top rating: practice testing and distributed practice, explains the lead author John Dunlosky, a psychology professor at Kent State University.
Interactive pedagogy, for example, turns passive, note-taking students into active, de facto teachers who explain their ideas to each other and contend for their points of view. (“The person who learns the most in any classroom,” Mazur declares, “is the teacher.”) Thousands of research studies on learning indicate that “active learning is really at a premium. It’s the most effective thing,” says Terry Aladjem, executive director of the Bok Center and lecturer on social studies. “That means focusing on what students actually do in the classroom, or in some other learning environment. From cognitive science, we hear that learning is a process of moving information from short-term to long-term memory; assessment research has proven that active learning does that best.”