What is active learning and what is passive learning?


Although there are many methods of learning, most can be divided into two types: active learning and passive learning. This article will explain the differences and help individuals decide which learning method is best for them. This article will explain how teachers can determine the relative value of passive and active learning in their teaching methods and learn content.

What is active learning?

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Active learning refers to any type of learning that involves direct participation by the learner. Active learning involves an individual being engaged and interactive in their learning. It can also be described more student-oriented than teacher-focused. It involves more than just teacher instruction.

Group discussion and practical exercises are the most popular examples of active learning. Participating in group discussion means actively engaging with the subject, sharing your knowledge and understanding with others. Practical exercises allow you to apply new knowledge in real-life situations. Learning to drive a vehicle is one example of active learning. While the teacher will instruct how to drive, the student must also practice driving the car.

Active learning has many advantages

Active learning is a preferred method of learning and teaching that engages learners because of its many benefits and characteristics. We also discussed some of the possible downsides to active learning vs passive.

  • Active learning helps to develop critical thinking. As an example, discussing a topic or performing an exercise requires that an individual evaluate and consider their understanding.
  • Knowledge retention– It is now known that engaging in critical thinking can increase knowledge retention – new information being transferred to long-term memories.
  • Higher likelihood to keep students engaged. Engaging in thinking, discussing, and actually doing can reduce boredom or loss of interest.
  • This allows learners to ask questions and get feedback, which helps them to understand the subject. Students who don’t understand or fail to verify their understanding are more likely to lose interest and disengage from learning.

Active learning has its disadvantages

  • Doesn’t always allow for flexibility for the learner. Practical learning and group discussions often require that participants attend a particular time and place, which might not be convenient or work with other priorities.
  • can lead to limited content. One aspect of a topic may be discussed by a group. Although it may be interesting, it might not cover all aspects of the subject. It can also take up too much time.
  • It can be challenging to plan active learning from a teaching perspective. They don’t allow for the creation of reuseable content. Group discussions are dependent on and dictated by the input of participants. They don’t offer the control and certainty of a lecture.
  • Active learning can increase student engagement but it can also have the opposite effect. Some voices can dominate a group discussion, leading to disengagement and loss of interest.

What is passive learning?

Passive learning is more focused on the teacher than student engagement. It’s not an option when you buy homework online and your grades improve. But it’s also a way! The teacher is the one who is instructing the student. The teacher must help the student absorb information and give feedback.

Traditional teaching can also be considered passive learning. This includes reading books, watching videos and attending lectures. It would also include digital technologies like reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and watching online videos. The student is not required to interact with the learning in any case.

Passive learning has many advantages

Active learning is great for students’ engagement, curiosity, and ability to learn independently, but it can also be challenging. You may prefer to use traditional methods to teach content to large classes of students. Passive learning has both its advantages and disadvantages.

  • It is able to condense large amounts content in a way that is efficient. A lecture of an hour can give a complete overview of a topic, while a group discussion of an hour could not.
  • Offers greater flexibility for learners. An online lecture or book can be viewed at a time that suits the person. You can do it at your own pace. Reading a chapter of a book could prove more helpful than a 2-hour group discussion.
  • Gives teachers more control They can make content that is comprehensive and holistic about a topic.
  • Teachers may also package passive learning content to make it reusable. Books, online lectures, podcasts, and videos can all be accessed multiple times by multiple learners.
  • Learners can learn passively . We are used to reading news and browsing the internet. Passive learning is therefore something we are comfortable with.

Passive learning has its disadvantages

  • Boredom and disengagement Students can lose interest in learning if they are not involved and interacted with.
  • Information overload can also occur – reading for too long is known to reduce knowledge retention because there is just too much information to store and process.
  • Doesn’t allow you to ask questions and verify your understanding. Feedback and questioning are two tools that can help you understand a subject. Understanding will be lost at any stage, and learning will cease to be valuable.

The Learning Pyramid: The insights

The introduction of The Learning Pyramid was a fundamental breakthrough in understanding the relative importance of passive and active learning. This method measured the effectiveness of various learning methods in terms of knowledge retention. It displayed the results in the form of a pyramid. You can read more about The Learning Pyramid in our previous article .

According to the Learning Pyramid model, active learning is more likely to lead in most cases to better knowledge retention. The Learning Pyramid has come under fire in recent years for its use as a method from education. Criticisms were directed at the use of percentages to measure progress as it was too prescriptive. The Learning Pyramid doesn’t recognize that people respond differently to different learning methods. It doesn’t consider context. Some subjects are more suited to certain forms of learning.

How do you determine which learning method works best for you?

The Learning Pyramid’s insight is that active learning may be the most effective in terms of knowledge retention. However, this can often be done as part of blended learning , which combines both passive and active learning methods. Understanding one’s learning style and subject matter is essential. Different learning styles may be helpful at different stages.

A lecture, for example, can provide a foundation for a group discussion. The lecture informs the group discussion, and the discussion cements knowledge from the lecture. Both active and passive learning can be mutually beneficial and supportive.

Certain types of learning are more suited for some people than others. For example, a lecture can be very rewarding for some learners. They will be able cement their understanding and knowledge without having to use active learning strategies. A student studying law will likely need to read more due to the nature and requirements of the subject.

Effective learning requires the best teaching methods

Active and passive learning is something teachers and learners need to embrace. Always consider the needs of both the student and the subject. While a lecture can be useful in packaging content for reuse, it may lose its value if students become bored or disengaged. This may mean that the lecture needs to be combined with active learning strategies.

The style of the content is just as important as what you are learning. Students may find a shorter video that covers the same topic and ideas in ten minutes more useful than one that lasts an hour. Microlearning is a shorter and more concise way to learn. This can be used for both active and passive learning. More information about Microlearning is available in our previous article .

The teacher must respond to the student. One group may have a successful group discussion, but it might not work with another group with a different set or personalities. It is crucial to evaluate the benefits of active and passive learning, and to relate these to different people and contexts.



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Author: Simon RobertEasyInfoBlog is a multi-author blog. We have experts and professionals in various fields who share their ideas and expert knowledge to help you with your daily information needs. Thanks for reading!

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