Talk:Active learning

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I believe most of the text on this page is plagiarized from Charles C. Bonwell and James A. Eison's "Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom" at

Holy damn. It's been based strongly around a copy-and-paste since 2004, too. The lead was not copied, so I've left that and the external links. The rest has numerous identical or slightly changed passages from the above link. Wow. Tony Fox (arf!) 20:49, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Bureaucratic evangelism seems to have landed here[edit]

The text constitutes now, despite being profuse in citations, an ideologically driven attack against active learning.

What is the point of doing it? Why here? Traditional education, for instance, seems a more appropriate section to assert the kind of things we can now read here. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 02:02, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

To each his own... perhaps you should read some of that literature before you make judgements. ...anonymous

Sure! I am really astonished with the amount of ignorance one can accumulate in a set of self consistent citations. Must read it myself to check. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 12:39, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

The World is wide![edit]

I must recognize that you, anonymous, have been involved in a very active [!] learning process here, of course, with the very helpful guidance [!] of some vigilant peers.


I now even hope you will end up learning how foolish exercise is the one which only aims objectivising personal wishes and inclinations. Let us see. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 21:10, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

As an impartial observer on this, can I suggest that the editors who are active here be cautious about their approach to one another? Disagreements over content are usually better approached by discussion on this talk page, rather than just reverting and removing content without explanation. There's been a lot of work done on this page in recent days, and I've noted some issues with the content that's been added (some POV is involved in a few places, as in the discussion of the NCLB legislation), but it doesn't seem to be too problematic in the whole. Tony Fox (arf!) 21:36, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Of course, but one have reasons to suspect that anonymous probably cannot do much more than passive citation. 12:24, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

The call here must be for rationality[edit]

Progressing in knowledge (i. e., learning) means accommodating an ever increasing space of mutually incompatible explanatory alternatives. It's not defending at all cost one's idealized view of reality, nor reproducing and amplificating someone else's conceited attacks against the diversity of interpretations, viewpoints and evidence.

Even the scientific explanations we select (and we are forced to do that; nobody can pay attention to everything) do not explain an independent objective world, they explain our experience and the world we live in.

Thus, if we are in an assertive mood and we want to impose our views on the other without reflection, de facto negating him or her, or if we are directly in an emotion that negates him or her, we will find ourselves operating in an irrational explanatory path.

Irrational not only because assertive emotions do not contribute to the constitution of the validity of an argument, but because they blind us to doing nothing more than choosing the point of view to see what was previously determined. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 14:37, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Evaluating the instructional effectiveness of Active learning[edit]

You are naif.
The NCLB act authoritarian view on education, with its strong normative emphasis and its reluctance in accepting diversity, will certainly make it very difficult to work on the premisses of active learning. Opportunities for active learning will be reduced to a few places where people are regarded as individuals and personal potential is valued.
With the exception of those already working with the educationally subnormal or with the gifted pupils, few active learning teachers will remain engaged in modifying educational methods to suit the needs of particular pupils.
One can reasonably expect that only the extremely successful ones will survive. I can even predict that some statistic-based scientific "research" will probably come to the fore with the brilliant conclusion that NCLB improved active learning effectiveness.
No doubt, it will be telling the truth. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 16:38, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

In the mood of objectivity[edit]

People who are promoting mis-information on this Wikipedia article are most likely innocent fans of specific political efforts to win votes. I still cannot see how the NCLB act will help, in a significant (and sustainable) way, students, teachers and schools to improve.

That fact will certainly not invalidate a project to see a "mature" active learning article in Wikipedia. Reason has a central position in our [western] culture. I expect that sooner or later events and circumstances will push all contributions into the path of objectivity.

Of one thing I am certain, however. That path (i. e. the search for conditions that make an argument rational, and, hence, undeniable) can only emerge here on this talk page. Reverting and removing everybody else's contributions on the article page is good for nothing. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 15:12, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

The "future" of the NCLB standard-based (passive) model of instruction[edit]

Standard approaches aimed at the "universal" person are wedded to the simplistic views which still hold that the right combination of reward (or incentives) and punishment will be sufficient to regulate behaviour. Many of the so-called "statistically scientific researchers" still share that view, and many others, like them, who, despite all evidence, still find it difficult to accept that the world is round, not flat.

Educational standards present a series of rising hurdles over which aspiring pupils are expected to jump if they are to achieve prescribed levels of performance. Given human diversity, it is inescapable that these academic hurdles will be set too high (too soon) for some.

We can ask why, even now, with an all time high in the number of young adults who don't fit anywhere (don't have a real personal identity, don't feel comfortable in society, fail to earn a living in a legitimate way and have little intention of doing so) some politicians are demanding that more should be done to put schools measuring achievement by the distinctions awarded to star pupils. The answer to that question is obvious: it's all about pleasing the usual elements within the general public that agree and claim for more "black and white" normativity.

The real challenge though, even if one wants to pull in the direction of social conformity, lies in meeting the diversity of needs of the less educated. Schools cannot deal with these needs if they are run on a standard model.

It's certainly not that political sincerity or will or vision is lacking. A good proportion of politicians can probably score well on measures of decisiveness and mental ability. The problem is that proclaiming an open (and realistic) change of line would simply mean to risk the disaffection of their simple-minded political supporters and to prepare a path into the political wilderness. That's why electorally attractive but oversimple solutions to problems tend to be selected, even if they are not sustainable; even when they are expected to founder on the hard bedrock of reality a short time afterwards. What wise people can expect will happen with that kind of political dictation is a delayed political reverse, a more than probable future loss in educational control and direction.

In our increasingly complex age, this unaccountable "blindness" of so many educational policies is an anachronism. If the increasingly wide variation in educational ability continues to go unchallenged, one can only expect that a new era of extreme violence will be about to open.

We can even foresee the probable contours of what will be NCLB unhappy ending. A few successive crimes (of the particular kind that always attracts media attention) will be perpetuated in schools (understandably involved in no more than custodial duties), they will unleash public outrage and, as a consequence, NCLB won't need to remain underfunded, it can be sent down the toilet for real. Carlos Vasconcelos Lopes 18:41, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Subdivisions of "Active Learning"[edit]

I feel that the distinctions and relations among the concepts of "Discovery Learning," "Problem-based Learning," "Experiential Learning," and "Inquiry-based Instruction" are not explained clearly enough to warrant their presentation as individual subdivisions of "Active Learning." I feel that either more specific definitions need to be given to distinguish these categories more fully from each other, or they should be condensed to a list of different facets of the pedagogy of "Active Learning," and have their subsequent pages deleted or condensed to the page on "Active Learning." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC).

A discussion of the relationships between "Discovery Learning," "Problem-based Learning," "Experiential Learning," and "Inquiry-based Instruction" is well beyond the scope of this web page. For a good understanding of these types of instruction please read the cited article (Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark, 2006).

Highly questionable[edit]

I would suggest this page be removed or at least be flagged as questionable. It is highly contentious, almost certainly ideologically motivated and makes no attempt to situate active learning within the evolution of learning theory. Given the amount of literature involved, it is somewhat lame to attempt to discredit a theory by reference to two sources, and furthermore with no mention of what the evidence referred to is. Unfortunately, allowing this kind of writing to stand, without signalling its contested nature does nothing to help the cause of Wikipedia. 06:31, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Read the literature before calling for signaling[edit]

Many educators are passionate about this topic; it has been hotly debated since the 1960s. Even though this is the case, those opposing these views rarely cite empirical evidence and more often than not simply cite opinion papers. The literature cited in this article is by some of the most widely respected folks in the business. Before sounding off, weigh the issues, read the literature and make sound evidence-based judgments.

Is Learning by teaching not an active learning?[edit]

I had set a link to Learning by teaching and this was removed. Why? Learning by teaching is a widespread method, at least in Germany and the students were deeply activated trough this method!--Jeanpol 06:51, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

NPOV issues[edit]

I deleted a substantial section of content and restructured a bit so that both arguments for and against can be given a balanced perspective.

Here's my analysis of why I cut one paragraph. I just didn't see anything recoverable from it. I want to be clear why it was done though.

  • "Constructivists have an alternative perspective, contrary to the empirical evidence" (Not NPOV: Empirical evidence supporting active learning is provided in the article, it just doesn't agree with Kirschner's evidence)
  • "This has sparked a debate in the instructional community because most constructivists adamantly defend their perspective." (Unsourced NPOV--not neutral language)
  • "Kirschner et al (2006) article intentional chose rather harsh language" (This is an opinion, unless someone has a citation with an interview with the authors saying that was their reason.
  • "In much the same way Richard Clark ignited the Instructional Design community in the mid 1990s with the media debates, Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark have again spurred another controversy." (unsourced)
  • "But a careful reading of the Kirschner et al (2006) article shows that it is a summary paper, on Cognitive load theory, describing several decades of research." (Personal opinion, not someone else's cited opinion about Kirschner. It also implies that constructivists aren't reading carefully and is therefore not NPOV.)

WeisheitSuchen (talk) 00:50, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Found another one today: "Kirschner et al (2006) calls for those using these techniques to explain their actions in terms of empirical data." I reread the Kirschner et al article again today and I don't see any such call to action. It's possible that I missed it though, so if someone can provide a quote that actually does say this, please share it here. However, this appears to be a personal opinion that has been attributed to the authors, not something actually from the source. WeisheitSuchen (talk) 14:17, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Delete this page?[edit]

This page is sort of a mess and discussion has stopped. The mess is that the page is only a recommendation of various instructional methods and some references to research on methods. A definition of "active learning" is not offered, perhaps because no definition is generally agreed to by researchers or educators. In any case, alternative definitions must be offered to achieve the primary goal of an encyclopedia. What exactly to these methods have in common that makes them "active"? The answer should be more than "they are not lectures". Until someone writes up the common definitions offered in the literature, this page is worthless. Once that is done, a couple of examples of methods will suffice. WP is not a user manual.Robotczar (talk) 15:01, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

Starts well, goes bad quickly.[edit]

The article starts off well, but deteriorates into specific methods, ideology, and advocacy. The major problem is that this articles take the popular but mistaken view that "traditional education" (whatever that is) promotes a sort of passive sort of learning. It does not and never has. No learning or instructional theory recommends only passive observation, so attacking that straw man is not helpful. Poor teachers lecture, but that has nothing to do with how well students learn. Most animal learning is active (requires movement and sensory exploration). A few animals can learn by observing others, only one by receiving symbolic information (e.g., language). The amazing thing is that only humans can learning by receiving symbolic information (e.g., from books or lectures). Formal instruction includes both presentation of information via language and learning activities. So, what exactly is active learning? And, what makes is better than the passive kind? The answer is not clearly given from either a learning theory perspective or instructional perspective. Simply labeling methods as "active" and discussing them is not helpful for defining active learning. It is also ridiculous to claim that educational technology is somehow associated with active learning. Technology, like books, can support all types of learning, it is the pedagogy dying use that determines how effective any technology is for instruction.

"Many research studies have proven that active learning as a strategy has promoted achievement levels and some others say that content mastery is possible through active learning strategies. " This sort of thing needs to stop. What studies? Studies don't prove anything; the provide evidence. The sentence doesn't make sense. What are achievement levels? Who says mastery is possible via active learning? What point is the writer trying to make? They seem very confused. WP needs more than term papers written by undergrads. I suggest this be parred down to a definition of so-called active learning, some examples,some evidence, and some problems or objections. Leave it at that. Robotczar (talk) 19:05, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I totally agree with you but when I added some well-sourced changes to the lede a few weeks ago they were reverted by some rude editor who dubbed my edit as: "lead section that was butchered in a series of good faith but errant edits," and so please go ahead and do something yourself as I am disinclined to try and then get my head chopped off once again. Peter morrell 05:58, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

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Reference to 'Learning styles' needs a health warning[edit]

I realise that this is not the only problem with this article, as the previous comments testify, but there is a particular problem with the uncritical reference to 'learning styles', without noting that the concept is a contentious one, whose use to drive pedagogic choices has been much criticised (as documented in the Wikipedia article on the subject).