AIChE Journal Highlight: Use these Tools to Ease into Active Learning


Numerous studies have demonstrated that active learning in the classroom is a more effective teaching method than the traditional lecture; this is true even when only a fraction of class time is devoted to active learning. Studies also show that disadvantaged students benefit the most from such teaching methods.

“When I first visited a ski resort in Colorado to learn how to downhill ski, the ski instructor did not present a three-hour lecture on how to ski,” John Falconer of the Univ. of Colorado Boulder writes in the December AIChE Journal Perspective article, “Why Not Try Active Learning?” “Instead, he fitted me with ski boots, skis, and poles, took me to a ski slope, briefly showed me what to do, and then told me to follow him down the hill. Of course, I fell down, but I got up and tried again,” he continues. “One learns to ski by doing, and failure is part of the learning process. Learning chemical engineering has a lot of similarities; being actively involved and trying to solve problems, for example, is more effective than having someone lecture on how to solve problems.”

In an active-learning classroom setting, students do not just listen. Instead, each student is engaged in the learning process by doing learning activities in the classroom and thinking about what they are doing. Active learning in the classroom can take...

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