Why Students Don’t Like Active Learning: Stop making me work at learning!
I enjoy reading Annie Murphy Paul’s essays, and this one particularly struck home because I just got my student opinion surveys from last semester. I use active learning methods in my Media Computation class every day, where I require students to work with one another. One student wrote:
“I didn’t like how he forced us to interact with each other. I don’t think that is the best way for me to learn, but it was forced upon me.”
It’s true. I am a Peer Instruction bully.
At a deeper level, it’s amazing how easily we fool ourselves about what we learn from and what we don’t learn from. It’s like the brain training work. We’re convinced that we’re learning from it, even if we’re not. This student is convinced that he doesn’t learn from it, even though the available evidence says she or he does.
In case you’re wondering about just what “active learning” is, here’s a widely-accepted definition: “Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert. It emphasizes higher-order thinking and often involves group work.”