I recently reviewed an active learning workshop, and that’s gotten me wondering about active learning strategies and where we are in our thinking about them. We do know the answers to two questions. First, active learning strategies work—not all the time or uniformly but regularly. When they work, they get students involved, engaged, and sometimes even thinking. And second, we know that teachers love any instructional strategy that garners those results.
Thanks again for your stimulating piece, Maryellen. For me the challenge of assessing these methodologies is that while certain techniques appear attractive and are very popular, ultimately it is the substance that goes into the technique. For example, the classic think-pair-share can be brilliant when it is well designed or a waste of time when there is minimal substance. This is why in my workshops I give so much time to question design, as I have found that the active learning for complex and multidimensional thinking that we long for is rooted in the questions that catalyze the discussion.