Active Learning Handbook (ALHB), was created to help teachers incorporate active learning into their classroom environments. The ALHB provides a theoretical foundation, activity selection criteria, and several activities that can be incorporated into the classroom both with and without technology. The Active Learning Handbook draws from Dee Fink's epochal book on Creating Significant Learning Experiences : An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (2003). It offers ideas, techniques, and examples that faculty can use when creating significant teaching and learning activities. The handbook is divided into two main sections: an introduction and a list of activities that can be incorporated into courses or exercises. The introduction includes a definition of active learning, an overview of theoretical frameworks, some selection strategies, and additional suggestions for using the handbook. In the second section of the handbook the authors identify a series of learning activities, each of which includes a suggestion for where the activity falls on the four active learning continuums from Bonwell and Sutherland, a description, purpose, implementation steps, additional information, and examples of implementation where possible.
Type of Material:
Reference material and handbook
May be used to enhance existing courses or in the development of new courses both face-to-face and online, with or without technology integration.
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
The purpose of this resource is to encourage and help teachers incorporate active learning into their classroom environments.It also proposes ideas, techniques, and examples that faculty can use to promote active learning in their classes.
Target Student Population:
It may be used by individual faculty or in a faculty development program at primarily the undergraduate level but also at the secondary school level and for adult education and training.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Experience teaching adult learners and/or teacher, trainer, or instructor preparation.
The Active Learning Handbook presents valid and accurate concepts, models, and activities based on prevailing active learning research. It also presents educationally significant concepts, models, and activities that may be used for teaching with or without technology. Valid and accurate references and a short bibliography are provided.
The ALHB is based in part on L.D. Fink's Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses (2003)but also drawing on the works of B.J. Bloom (Taxonomy of Educational Objectives), C.C. Bonwell and T.E. Sutherland (The active learning continuum), C. Vrasidas,(Constructivism versus objectivism),and others.
Other references that are important may have been included such as the standard book about active learning techniques by T.A. Angelo and K.P. Cross, Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (Second Ed.)(1993). Other standard works include:
Bean, J. C. (1996). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom.
Campbell, William E. & Karl A. Smith. (1997). New Paradigms for College Teaching.
Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom (ASHE–ERIC Higher Education Rep. No. 1).
Eison, J. A., & Bonwell, C. C. (1993, January). Some recent works on using active learning strategies across the disciplines include: Unpublished manuscript. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 364 135).
Hatfield, Susan Rickey ed. (1995). The Seven Principles in Action: Improving Undergraduate Education. (Refers to Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education by Chickering and Gamson)
McKeachie, W. J., & Svinicki, M. (2006). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (12th ed.).
Felder, R.M. & Brent, R. (2009). Active learning: An introduction. ASQ Higher Education Brief, 2(4).
For a more updated, annotated bibliography of literature related to active learning see: http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/alc/bibliography/index.html and www.cvm.umn.edu/.../cvm_content_450277.pdf
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This resource gives a clear articulation of its goals as a resource for faculty who want to make their classes more learner-centered and engaging. The user who carefully reads and follows the handbook will be able to effectively achieve these goals. Compared to other resources for promoting active learning, this resource is equally effective or better. The content level is appropriate for higher education instructors and adult educators.
The definition of active learning as "a process wherein students are actively engaged in building understanding of facts, ideas, and skills" appears to rely too heavily on lower order thinking (understanding/comprehension) to the detriment of high order thinking skills. It's not only a matter of understanding but actually practicing higher order thinking skills. The chart on Active Learning Lexicons seems to detract from a focus on understanding active learning itself instead of similar constructs. The handbook may have been even more effective if L.D. Fink's understanding and emphasis on active learning and learner centeredness in the context of his model were also presented in conjunction with his taxonomy. As far as the Active Learning Continuums are concerned, their application appears suitable for all types of learning, not only active learning.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This resource presents the information clearly and is arranged in an orderly fashion. The information is well organized and logically sequenced. The content level is appropriate for the expertise level of the undergraduate faculty, adult instructors/trainers, and some secondary school teachers. This resource presents information in ways that are familiar for the intended audience. Clearly draws on the familiar concetps and models from Dee Fink, Bloom, and Bonwell and Eison. Most of the popular activity examples derive from "Teaching Creatively: Ideas in Action", by Morrison-Shetlar & Marwitz,2001.
A table of contents at the very beginning would have been helpful.
Broken link in the PDF manual for the updated on-line handbook:
Broken link to Burns and Adams (new link: http://www.sedl.org/pubs/tec26/flash.html)
Some terms like "interaction" might be defined. The definition of 'active learning' as a "process wherein students are actively engaged in building understanding of facts, ideas, and skills" is not as clear as it might be, especially when compared with the original definition by Bonwell and Eison who contend that "strategies promoting active learning" may "be defined as instructional activities involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing." .
Other Issues and Comments:
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