Active learning makes a difference!

To some degree, we all intuit that getting students actively involved in class will help them learn, but it's not always obvious just how much it helps them. The truth is it helps a lot and the research is there to prove it! 

Our favorite definition for active learning comes from Scott Freeman et al in their meta study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

"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." 

We know that students who feel engaged in material relevant to their lives and who feel a sense of belonging or connection to their teacher and peers, are more likely to stay in school.

Engagement In Course Materials:  In active learning classes students complete their readings and study more than students in lecture (or “less structured”) classes.

Hear from Every Student in the Room: Active learning narrows the achievement gap for women and minority students. Participation rates, exam scores, and final grades increase for these groups when they are engaged in more structured classes instead of passive listening.

Increased Performance: Active learning provides students many opportunities to re-engage with the same material, leading to better understanding, deeper thinking, and higher levels of achievement. These students also show better classroom behavior, improving the atmosphere of the room. 


Students learn more when they participate in the process of learning, whether it’s through discussion, practice, review, or application.
— Stanford University Teaching Commons

Benefits of Active Learning

  Active Learning can halve the achievement gap between black and white students and the gap between more and less affluent students

Active Learning can halve the achievement gap between black and white students and the gap between more and less affluent students

  test scores measuring conceptual understanding were nearly twice as high in classes promoting engagement than in traditional courses

test scores measuring conceptual understanding were nearly twice as high in classes promoting engagement than in traditional courses

  On average, students taught with active learning outperformed those taught by lectures by 6 percentage points on their exam

On average, students taught with active learning outperformed those taught by lectures by 6 percentage points on their exam

  Active learning can eliminate the achievement gap between female and male students in traditionally male-dominated disciplines

Active learning can eliminate the achievement gap between female and male students in traditionally male-dominated disciplines

  A meta-analysis of 228 studies on active learning suggests that 3,500 additional students would have passed their courses if taught with active learning. 

A meta-analysis of 228 studies on active learning suggests that 3,500 additional students would have passed their courses if taught with active learning. 

  Looking at that students in that same meta-analysis, by conservative estimates, active learning would have saved the students about 3.5 million dollars in tuition

Looking at that students in that same meta-analysis, by conservative estimates, active learning would have saved the students about 3.5 million dollars in tuition



 
Peary
 

The Pear Deck Recipe

Three steps to better engagement

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Question

Create compelling questions to put the focus on the fascinating truths at the center of your lessons. Pear Deck makes it easy to ask questions that spark curiosity and challenge intuition instead of just delivering facts—letting students become self-motivated learners.

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Explore 

By only asking questions with a right and wrong answer, we make it scary to be wrong.  By asking open-ended questions, we show learners how to inquire, stumble,  wonder, and discover. Pear Deck helps you ask open-ended questions and engage with every student's answers.

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Reflect

At different points throughout the lesson, ask students to put it in their own words or identify points of confusion. Pear Deck makes it safe to participate while also making it clear that every single person in the room is expected to be thinking and engaged.


Additional Reading 

Formative Assessment:

Inquiry-Based Learning

Active Learning