Active teaching for active learning: Strategies that work

Year: 2012

Author: Lai-Yeung, Susanna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


While active learning has been promoted in education for over a decade, its implementation in higher education varies across disciplines. Variations can be found in teacher's role and teaching strategies adopted. In terms of the role of the teachers, many envisage the teacher to be a facilitator and a "guide on the side". With regard to teaching strategies, it can involve the use of questioning techniques, group work activities and IT tools. With a view to this broader research base, this paper has two aims. First, it discusses the roles of the teacher in active learning. Second, it reports a research study using an ACTIVE teaching approach which incorporates multiple strategies to facilitate active learning. The study was conducted in an undergraduate educational psychology course for students enrolled in either an English language studies program or a double degree teacher education program. The ACTIVE teaching approach utilizes teaching techniques based on theories and previous research findings in cognitive psychology, motivation, active learning, and educational psychology. 'ACTIVE' is an acronym for Action & Autonomy, Creativity, self-Tests, Interaction, Vignettes, and Experience. Theoretical considerations for this approach are explained in the paper. Six cohorts of students (N= 232) were studied comparing the use of the ACTIVE teaching approach with a traditional lecturing approach and a problem-based approach. Results found that students achieved higher grades in their assignments and in the final examination than a similar course taught by the other two approaches. Student ratings were highest in the course taught by the ACTIVE approach. Qualitative analysis of students' comments also revealed very positive feedback about the teaching strategies and the teacher involved.