Active-learning methods promote better comprehension and memory

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Children's Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in widespread disruptions to traditional schooling and has led to renewed interest in evaluating the best and most effective approaches to teaching and learning. In a series of vignettes, education experts describe the growing bodies of research that demonstrate the benefits of “active learning,” which puts students more in the driver’s seat through discussions, interactive technologies, and other strategies to engage learners and deepen understanding.

Use of these approaches shows that they can not only lead to cognitive benefits and academic success, but also socioemotional support, particularly for students challenged by traditional passive learning approaches.

Research also suggests that such approaches promote better comprehension and memory. Here, education researchers and experts weigh in on novel methods that support active learning in classrooms from pre-school to college and beyond, including in the community.

Examples include a transformed bus stop in West Philadelphia designed to spark parent-child interactions, which are known to promote better language skills; efforts to guide children into less-structured activities, shown to improve executive function; and physically active learning, which can support the ability of students to model the world and discover patterns.

Journal reference:

Nesra Yannier, et al. (2021) Active learning: “Hands-on” meets “minds-on”. Science. doi.org/10.1126/science.abj9957.

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