`What does it mean to be an ACTIVE learner

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‘What does it mean to be an ACTIVE learner?’
It is helpful to compare a passive learner with an active learner.
A passive learner:
retains information and knowledge
less effectively
is likely to develop lower-order
thinking
is used to receiving information
from a teacher in an unquestioning
manner
is inclined to have a lower retention
level
prefers to learn in isolation.
An active learner:
retains information and knowledge
more effectively
is likely to develop higher-order
thinking
prefers to make links with existing
knowledge
is inclined to have a higher
attention level
learns to collaborate and share the
process of learning with others
If you are used to a very structured lecturing style and feel comfortable
being a passive learner you may find the transition to an active learning
style quite challenging. There are several steps that you can take to help
you make the transition.
1. Find out what learning style you prefer (see the academic skills
website for details). Once you find out your preference you can
start to think about the other styles you may need to practice.
2. Try to understand what your lecturers expect of you. Do they ask
many questions of the group even in large lectures, set up debates,
set group work? If so, then they are expecting you to be actively
involved in each of the activities rather than passively receiving
information from them.
3. Start to share your understanding and your uncertainties with
other students.
4. Recognise that it is important to offer your views in discussion with
your tutor and fellow students.
5. If you remain confused in your learning consider the different
methods that can help you gain clarity of understanding: additional
reading (although good, it may create greater confusion, so be
selective, seek support from your lecturer, set up a study group
with other students.
6. Work towards being an independent learner. (See the academic
skills website for details).
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In lectures there is a danger that you may be used to taking a passive
approach. This is a comfortable way to behave but one that may not be in
your best interests. When in lectures it is better to try to be an active
learner through doing activities that helps you feel involved with the
lecture. For example: prepare for your lectures, take time to listen
carefully during lectures and classes to the key concepts or ideas being
presented to you, make links with your previous learning and so on.
Remember the old adage:
What I hear, I forget.
What I see, I remember
What I do, I understand (active learning – learning through or by doing)
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