A 2016 survey of K-12 leaders from the Center for Digital Education reveals why more schools are moving toward active learning.

In the survey, K-12 leaders said active learning is more engaging and effective than a traditional lecture-based approach to instruction, and it also helps build teamwork and other 21st century skills that are needed for success in the workplace.

A separate survey of company executives by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that working well together as a team to make decisions and solve problems is the No. 1 skill that employers most value among new hires—and active learning helps students develop this critical skill.

Want further proof? A study published by the National Academy of Sciences confirms the benefits of active learning on student achievement.

The study compared the performance of students in undergraduate math and science classes under traditional lecturing versus active learning.

It found that average scores improved by about 6% in active learning sections—and that students in classes with traditional lectures were 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes with active learning.

What’s more, active learning gives students opportunities to move around during class, which delivers both academic and health-related benefits.

Movement increases blood flow, which awakens our cells and stimulates our brains—so students feel more alert and can focus better.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that physical activity “can have an impact on cognitive skills, attitudes, and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention, as well as improved classroom behavior.”

By taking a more active role in their education, students learn more while also taking ownership of learning process. As a result, they learn to become independent thinkers and problem solvers. As one teacher was quoted in the Washington Post:

“I USED TO THINK IT WAS GOOD TEACHING TO STAND IN FRONT OF A CLASS AND LECTURE AND HAVE STUDENTS QUIETLY DOING WORK ALONE AT THEIR DESKS, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT ANYMORE. (A GREAT CLASSROOM IS) A PLACE WHERE STUDENTS ARE DOING AS MUCH OF THE TALKING AND THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING AS THE TEACHER. IT’S A PLACE WHERE STUDENTS ARE TACKLING QUESTIONS AND PROBLEMS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THEIR DAILY LIVES. THIS KIND OF CLASSROOM HELPS PREPARE STUDENTS TO BE THINKERS—AND THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL A TEACHER CAN TEACH.”

Active learning is…

  • More engaging: Higher student engagement is the No. 1 benefit of active learning, K-12 leaders say.
  • More effective: 86% of K-12 leaders say active learning improves student outcomes.
  • Helps build 21st century skills: 75% of K-12 leaders say the teamwork skills that students develop through active learning are critical for career success.

(Source: Center for Digital Education, 2016)

In today’s information-rich society, with the Internet at our fingertips, students and teachers no longer need a library for access to information. But that doesn’t mean school libraries have become irrelevant.

On the contrary, it can be argued that school libraries are more important today than ever.

They serve as a focal point for helping students and teachers navigate the flood of information available online and distinguish fact from fiction.

In many school libraries, teachers and media specialists are teaming up to teach classes together, with the media specialist focusing on the technology and information literacy skills that students need to become effective citizens in the Digital Age.

As learning becomes more participatory, requiring a co-construction of knowledge from many sources, school libraries are transforming from archives of information into “learning commons,” where students come to learn key 21st-century skills and construct new knowledge together.

This new model is changing the design of school library spaces. Printed books are still important, but library spaces are no longer consumed by rows of shelving.

For instance, there are more open spaces and common areas that allow students and teachers to get together for creating, sharing, and collaborating.

As school libraries evolve to meet the changing needs of staff and students, K-12 leaders are charged with designing modern library spaces that can support these emerging needs.

As you seek to transform your own school libraries into dynamic 21st-century learning commons, contact Paragon Furniture for assistance.

We will help you through the redesign process and share our insight and resources to inspire you and your new space.

Active learning is an instructional approach in which students take an active and fully engaged role in their education, rather than sitting passively and absorbing information.

This might involve several different kinds of activities, such as class discussions, hands-on learning, collaborative group work, or other dynamic approaches to instruction.

Active learning is more engaging than just sitting and taking notes while a teacher is talking.

It’s more effective than traditional instruction, and it also helps build critical 21st-century skills that employers desire.

When students are actively engaged in their learning, they are thinking, creating, sharing, communicating, and constructing new knowledge.

They are also taking ownership of their education. For these reasons, active learning is replacing the old-school “sit and get” approach to instruction in many classrooms nationwide.

 

0-1

 

For active learning to be successful, however, a number of important elements must be in place.

For instance, teachers need to be taught proven strategies for leading active learning in their classrooms.

They need support structures to help them implement these strategies effectively, while overcoming their fears of trying something new in front of their students.

And they need the right kind of classroom environment to support and encourage active learning—which includes the design of the learning space and how student desks and tables are configured.