Active learning and learning strategies
World Economic Forum published top 10 job skills of tomorrow. In our blog series you will get a deeper dive into each one of these skills of tomorrow.
Active learning and learning strategies
In our own work community, we regulary reflect on how people learn and how we have managed to meet their goals and expectations. What should we take into account when providing the most favorable conditions for learning? What is the source of the learner’s motivation? What kind of learning strategy does he/she use? And what teaching and learning methods are the most suitable in each situation?
Motivation and learning strategies
One of the essential aspects in learning is the students source of motivation. Some people are motivated by their own interests and desire. Others are more motivated by external pressure, rewards or fear of punishment. In both cases, learning should bring the learner constantly positive emotional experiences, a sense of empowerment and joy.
When a learner acquires, processes, memorizes, and recalls knowledge, he or she uses a variety of learning strategies. A learning strategy is defined as a way for a learner to study. It is based on the learner’s motives and it strongly influences what and how he or she learns. A skilled learner is able to change the learning strategy according to each task and situation. This requires a strong awareness of one’s own self and one’s own learning strategy. Finding the right learning strategy for the specific situation improves the performance and increases motivation.
Learning strategies are most often divided into two different groups: surface-oriented (surface-level) and deep-oriented (deep-level). The surface-oriented student scratches mainly the surface of the information. A deep-oriented student, on the other hand, is internally motivated. He/she wants to understand the deeper meaning of the subject and wants to place it in more comprehensive contexts.
Active learning and the concepts of learning
Most of us have practical experiences in teaching and learning based on a teacher-centered concept of learning. Actually, in many countries around the world the education is still very teacher-oriented. Very many adult learners are still expecting this behaviorist-based way of teaching. The past experiences of education affect their expectations.
Strategies and learning methods for active learning are more based on constructivism instead of behaviorism. Unlike behaviorism, the learner is here an active actor. The teacher has the role of an expert and enabler. His/her job is to arrange the conditions to enable the learners to make the most of the subject. Motivated active learners guide their own learning paths and build new knowledge and skills on top of the old ones.
Active learning is based on the student’s curiosity, ingenuity and experimentation. In a broader sense, active learning is any approach to learning in which learners participate in the learning process itself. Those accustomed to traditional behavioristic teacher-led education may first be scared. Gradually, however, they will fall in love: how can learning be so inspiring and motivating?
Active lifelong learning
The perception of teaching and learning in our own organization is largely based on pragmatic socioconstructivism. We emphasize agile, lifelong and continuous learning that takes place in a social context. Students are activated and, in a practical way, new connections are created between their previous knowledge and skills and new concepts and experiences. They are encouraged to look familiar things from a whole new perspective. As active players, along with others, they will learn how to jump into the cold water and will enjoy expanding their own bubbles. They want to pass on their knowledge to other learners because they also know that they will mutually benefit from the experiences of others, as well.
Activation by appropriate teaching methods
There are hundreds of teaching and learning methods and an almost limitless number of variations. They range from simple to very versatile ones. It is important to choose the right methods or combination of methods to fit the purpose. Suitable methods for getting acquainted and to create a good team spirit are, for example, group interviews or a cocktail party. During the training you may use methods like process walking, learning cafe, different debate methods or various group reflection methods.
How about remote and online training? Can the same active learning strategies and teaching methods be used succesfully online as well? Our experiences show that this is very well possible. Especially during the corona pandemic, we have observed that active social learning can be a success regardless of the environments and tools. Of course, this requires motivation, right attitude and practice from both the teacher and the students.
– Timo Huuskonen
We here at MIF Academy utilise active learning models used with the world famous Finnish pedagogical models. Feel free to take a look at our services and find a perfect fit for you! What would you like to learn next? – Lifelong learning.