"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." – Benjamin Franklin.
Activity-based learning (ABL), or active learning, is not a new concept. It has received a significant amount of attention over recent years. However, it still continues to be an underutilized method of teaching in the academic environment. Active learning is commonly defined as "any instructional method that engages students in the learning process" (Prince, 2004, p. 223). In the college classroom, active learning involves "students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing" (Bonwell, 1991, p.2). It goes beyond just watching, listening, or taking notes. It is a process where students become engaged in activities like writing, discussing, solving problems, or carrying out activities that promote the analyzing and processing of the content. Active learning is certainly based on activity–keep the body and mind moving–but it also embraces learning by hearing, visual input, touch, and the stimulation of intellectual processes concurrently. It involves learning by doing rather than learning by listening.
In this panel discussion, the theoretical framework drawing on published research and anecdotal experiences will be discussed first, along with a discussion/debate of the challenges and obstacles with incorporating active learning strategies into the classroom. For instance, how do the elements of the traditional Western culture educational practices stand at odds with the tenets of ABL? Basic strategies for effectively integrating ABL tactics into the classroom will be discussed, and will include how we learn from others (collaboration), discovery methods, and somatic demonstration. Generic applications of active learning, such as the use of question-and-answer formats, picture drawing, one-minute papers, think-pair-share approaches, and the use of responder cards will be discussed, as well as more specific implementation strategies that can be utilized for your specific course. Panel members will relate their personal experiences with resistance to active learning methods, and provide thoughtful actions to overcome opposition. Active learning examples for various classroom topics will be discussed, and some will be performed by the audience in attendance. The panel will conclude the presentation with an open question-and-answer session to draw upon the experiences of the audience.