Active and Cooperative Learning

Active Learning For The College Classroom
 
Authors
 
Definitions
 
Techniques

Individual Exercises

Questions & Answers

Immediate Feedback

Critical Thinking

Share/Pair

Cooperative Learning

    References

    Bibliography

    Internet

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      Donald R. Paulson

      Chemistry and Biochemistry
      California State University, L.A.
      5151 State University Drive
      Los Angeles, CA 90032

      drpaulson@ouraynet.com

      Jennifer L. Faust

      Department of Philosophy
      California State University, L.A.
      5151 State University Drive
      Los Angeles, CA 90032

      jfaust@calstatela.edu

      BACKGROUND & DEFINITIONS

      The past decade has seen an explosion of interest among college faculty in the teaching methods variously grouped under the terms 'active learning' and 'cooperative learning'. However, even with this interest, there remains much misunderstanding of and mistrust of the pedagogical "movement" behind the words. The majority of all college faculty still teach their classes in the traditional lecture mode. Some of the criticism and hesitation seems to originate in the idea that techniques of active and cooperative learning are genuine alternatives to, rather than enhancements of, professors' lectures. We provide below a survey of a wide variety of active learning techniques which can be used to supplement rather than replace lectures. We are not advocating complete abandonment of lecturing, as both of us still lecture about half of the class period. The lecture is a very efficient way to present information but use of the lecture as the only mode of instruction presents problems for both the instructor and the students. There is a large amount of research attesting to the benefits of active learning.

      "Active Learning" is, in short, anything that students do in a classroom other than merely passively listening to an instructor's lecture. This includes everything from listening practices which help the students to absorb what they hear, to short writing exercises in which students react to lecture material, to complex group exercises in which students apply course material to "real life" situations and/or to new problems. The term "cooperative learning" covers the subset of active learning activities which students do as groups of three or more, rather than alone or in pairs; generally, cooperative learning techniques employ more formally structured groups of students assigned complex tasks, such as multiple-step exercises, research projects, or presentations. Cooperative learning is to be distinguished from another now well-defined term of art, "collaborative learning", which refers to those classroom strategies which have the instructor and the students placed on an equal footing working together in, for example, designing assignments, choosing texts, and presenting material to the class. Clearly, collaborative learning is a more radical departure from tradition than merely utilizing techniques aimed at enhancing student retention of material presented by the instructor; we will limit our examples to the "less radical" active and cooperative learning techniques. "Techniques of active learning", then, are those activities which an instructor incorporates into the classroom to foster active learning.


      TECHNIQUES OF ACTIVE LEARNING

      Exercises for Individual Students

      Because these techniques are aimed at individual students, they can very easily be used without interrupting the flow of the class. These exercises are particularly useful in providing the instructor with feedback concerning student understanding and retention of material. Some (numbers 3 and 4, in particular) are especially designed to encourage students' exploration of their own attitudes and values. Many (especially numbers 4 - 6) are designed to increase retention of material presented in lectures and texts.

      REFERENCES ON ACTIVE AND COOPERATIVE LEARNING

      Angelo, T. A. and Cross, K. P. 1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques, A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd ed., Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco,.

      Bonwell, C.C, and J. A. Eison. 1991. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1, 1991) Washington, D.C.: George Washington University Clearinghouse on Higher Education.

      Brophy, J. 1987. Synthesis of research on strategies for motivating students to learn. Educational Leadership 45: 40-48.

      Clarke, J. 1994. "Pieces of the Puzzle: The Jigsaw Method", in Sharan, ed. Handbook of Cooperative Learning Methods.

      Davis, G. 1993.Tools for Teaching, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.

      Davis, T. M. and Murrell, P. H. 1993.Turning Teaching into Learning: The Role of Student Responsibility in the Collegiate Experience, ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Research Report, No. 1, Washington, D.C.

      Crow, L. W., Ed. 1989. Enhancing Critical Thinking in the Sciences, Society for College Science Teachers, Washington, D. C.

      Frederick, Peter J. 1987. "Student Involvement: Active Learning in Large Classes", in M. Weimer, ed. Teaching Large Classes Well. pp. 45-56.

      Goodsell, A., M. Maher and V. Tinto. 1992. Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education. University Park: The National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.

      Grasha, A. 1996.Teaching with Style, Alliance Publishers, Pittsburgh, PA.

      Herron, D. 1996.The Chemistry Classroom, Formulas for Successful Teaching, American Chemical Society, Washington, D. C.

      Johnson, D. and R. Johnson. 1994. "Structuring Academic Controversy", in Sharan, ed. Handbook of Cooperative Learning Methods.

      Johnson, D., R. Johnson, and K. Smith. 1991. Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. Edina, MI, Interaction Book Company.

      ----------. 1991. Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity. (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4, 1991) Washington, D.C.: George Washington University Clearing House on Higher Education.

      Kagan, S. 1992. Cooperative Learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Resources for Teachers, Inc.

      Kagan, S. and M. Kagan. 1994. "The Structural Approach: Six Keys to Cooperative Learning", in Sharan, ed. Handbook of Cooperative Learning Methods.

      Lowman. 1995.Mastering the Techniques of Teaching, 3rd. Ed. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

      Marcus, Russell. 1998. "Cooperative Learning on the First Day of Class", APA Newsletters, 97:2, Spring. [note: also forthcoming in Teaching Philosophy]

      Mazur, E. 1996.Conceptests, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J.

      Meyers, C. and T. Jones. 1993. Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for the College Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

      McKinney, K., and M. Graham-Buxton. 1993. "The Use of Collaborative Learning Groups in the Large Class: Is It Possible?" Teaching Sociology, 21, 403-408.

      Morrissey, T. J. 1982. The Five-Minute Entry: A Writing Exercise for Large Classes in All Disciplines. Exercise Exchange, 27, 41-42. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 236 604)

      National Research Council. 1997.Science Teaching Reconsidered, National Academy Press, Washington, D. C.

      Nelson, C. T. "Tools for Tampering with Teaching’s Taboos," in New Paradigms for College Teaching, W. E. Campbell and K. A. Smith, Eds., Interaction Book Company, Edina, MI, 1997.

      New Paradigms for College Teaching, Campbell, D. E.; Smith, K. A. Editors, Interaction Book Co., Edina, MI, 1997

      Siebert, E. D. ; Caprio, M. W.; Lyda C. M., Ed. 1997.Effective Teaching and Course Management for University and College Teachers, Kendall-Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa.

      Silberman, M. 1996.Active Learning, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.

      Sharan, S., ed. 1994. Handbook of Cooperative Learning Methods. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

      Weimer, M. G., ed. 1987. Teaching Large Classes Well. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


      INTERNET REFERENCES


      Science Education K-16