Home > Uncategorized > Active learning comes to… HARVARD?

Active learning comes to… HARVARD?

February 8, 2012

Monday’s Boston Globe had an article on how Harvard instructors are learning that lectures don’t work as well as  active learning. The newspaper indicated that students might not like some of the findings of the researchers gather at Harvard, particularly these:

Henry Roediger, from Washington University in St. Louis,… showed a series of experiments from his psychology lab, demonstrating that the best way to ensure learning is to give lots of tests, in every class meeting if necessary.

 What the newspaper missed is that these kinds of formative assessments don’t count toward a GRADE… they are used to determine if a student has mastered a skill or understood a concept presented in class. The media and public’s fixation on testing as a means of “accountability” is part of the Factory School fixation: every part has to be completed in the same way in the same time frame.
Meanwhile, in AZ the legislature is drafting bills to expand the use of on-line learning according to an article in the Arizona Republic. The motives of some of the legislators appear to be pure in the sense that they are advocating for mastery learning instead of “passing tests”, a distinction that was not duly elaborated upon by the reporter. Done well, this kind of legislation could be transformative… done poorly, it will be further evidence that deregulation is the darling of private
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