Active learning best method for students, study says

By HealthDay News

Whether you're a kid or a college student, you'll learn more with interactive activities, discussions, movement and even AI-enhanced technologies than you will just sitting still and listening, a new study suggests.

Learning methods that work best are hands-on, as well as what the researchers called "minds-on" and "hearts-on," using emotional and social support, the findings showed.


Faculty from Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute collected research into active learning, an idea that caught fire during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, as students of all ages were learning from home.

"We wanted to see what we learned from teaching and learning during COVID-19 and what could be brought back into the classroom," said faculty member Nesra Yannier, co-author of the new study.

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"COVID-19 forced educators to engage students in novel ways, and teachers were experimenting with new technology," Yannier added in a university news release.

The studies collected included one that found that college students learn better through active learning, even if they think they learn more from lectures.

Another showed how physical activity can help with creativity and idea generation.

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The findings were published Thursday in Science.

Active learning techniques encourage students to express thoughts and get feedback through interactive settings, according to the authors, instead of through passively receiving information.


The investigators included their own research.

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They performed controlled experiments to see how much children learned while interacting with NoRILLA, a mixed-reality learning platform that lets the students conduct and interpret real-world experiments and get personalized interactive feedback.

The students did the experiments with the artificial intelligence, or AI, turned on and off, learning far more with it turned on.

The AI-based virtual helper encouraged them to think critically and engaged them in discussions, according to the study.

"We've done a lot of research around this," Yannier said. "If we don't have the AI guidance on, the children are not able to understand the underlying concepts, and the learning doesn't translate into the real world."

The authors said they hope their paper will move educators to incorporate more active learning in their lessons and think about how they can participate in research into it.

Co-author Ken Koedinger added, "There is so much richness in this field that we can continually make improvements to make it more effective and enjoyable for a long, long time."

More information

The Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University has more on active learning.

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