How to Build a Culture of Active Learning in the Classroom

Cultivating a culture of active learning transforms traditional classrooms into dynamic hubs of engagement, curiosity, and collaboration. When students are involved in the learning process, they are likely to develop a deeper understanding and have a longer-term retention of knowledge. In this article, we will introduce some common strategies for teachers to build a culture of active learning in their classrooms, with a particular emphasis on the diverse learning styles identified by VARK.

a group of students learning together

Flipped Classroom Model: Empowering Student-Led Learning

The flipped classroom model encourages students to engage with instructional content outside of class, allowing in-class time for active learning and discussions. Teachers can create instructional videos or provide reading materials, enabling students to explore the content at their own pace before participating in collaborative activities during class. VARK modalities can be incorporated in both the presentation of the out-of-class materials and in the in-class activities. As well as class discussions (A), consider having the students:

  • create an infographic (V),
  • write an introductory article or summary (R)
  • create a mind map or list the main points (R)
  • role-play a situation (K)
  • apply what they have learned to a case study (K)
  • make group or individual presentations (A)
  • create and/or complete a quiz or game (K)
  • think-pair-share activities (A)
  • solve a problem (K)
  • debate a topic (A)
  • create a diagram showing the relationship between different concepts (V)

Peer Teaching: Encouraging Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

Incorporate peer teaching activities to foster collaboration and deepen understanding. Students can take turns teaching a concept to their peers – the process of preparing their teaching material clarifies their understanding, and they can refine their knowledge based on feedback and contributions from their peers. Keeping VARK preferences in mind, students can incorporate visuals (diagrams, drawings, infographics, posters), written summaries, and demonstrations (K) into their presentations.

Utilizing Technology: Interactive Platforms and Digital Resources

Leverage technology to enhance active learning. Online platforms, interactive simulations, and digital resources provide opportunities for students to engage with the material in dynamic ways. Teachers can use virtual labs for science experiments or collaborative platforms for group projects. Digital tools can be used to:

  • create visuals such as diagrams, posters, and graphs (V);
  • enable discussion and meetings between those not physically in the same location (A);
  • enhance writing, and facilitate collaborative writing projects (R);
  • explore concepts through games and simulations (K)

Assessment Through Application: Evaluating Understanding Through Action

Shift assessment methods toward application rather than rote memorization. Instead of traditional exams, design assessments that require students to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. This could involve creating visual or aural presentations, solving problems, participating in debates, writing critiques…

Conclusion

Building a culture of active learning requires intentional effort and a commitment to catering to diverse learning styles. By incorporating strategies that align with the principles of VARK, teachers can create dynamic and inclusive classrooms where students actively participate in their learning journey. Ultimately, the goal is to foster an environment where curiosity, collaboration, and engagement become the norm, leading to enriched learning experiences.

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