Differences between active and passive learning: Though learning is commonly defined as accumulated knowledge or knowledge gotten from experiences, the Merriam Webster dictionary has described it as a computer program that makes learning fun. In general, learning helps us with our growth and development. The learning system of the past mostly consisted of apprenticeship, such that, a person would look for a master, would apprentice under and after a period of time that master paid him off in order for him to start his own trade.
Then the women hardly went to school or were regarded as kitchen materials. In our modern age, learning is the in-thing, as not just schools has provided opportunities for learning, but more sophisticated libraries, a better and more practical educational system, and the internet has helped. Now people of all ages and sizes can assess information by just typing a few key words on goggle. Lately, there has been a need for updating the learning process of individuals, especially in schools, and there has been clamours for a change of passive learning to active learning.
Passive learning is the regular method whereby traditional class room activities thrive while active learning has to do with a more practical approach to learning. People say that active learning should be the in thing while others say that passive learning is better, after a critical assessment of the following I hope you take the right stance.
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6 Main Differences between active and passive learning
The main difference between the two is based on the involvement of the person doing the listening.
1. Active learning is learner centered while passive learning is teacher centered: As the name implies, active learning requires the active participation of the students, such that it requires students to think, discuss, challenge and analyse information. While passive learning only requires students to absorb, assimilate information and transform that information into knowledge that is being actively used.
Active learning requires the students taking active steps towards improving their learning life. Passive learning means that the students take no active participation in learning.
2. In active learning, students develop critical thinking skills while passive learning is associated with more traditional methods of instruction: In active learning students participate more in analysis and synthesis of information and develop their critical thinking skills. Active learning helps students engage more, and they learn real-world application of the information.
While passive learning often leave the students unengaged in the topic and bore them to the point of unengagement or lack of engagement in the first place. Again, teachers find it hard to access students comprehension.
3. In active learning there is Divergent thinking while in passive learning there is convergent thinking: In active learning what divergent thinking involves is that students don’t seek the right answer, because, in fact, there is no right answer.
They adopt a big-picture model of information and better understand its application in the “real world.” Active learning is common in fields like law, economics, psychology and philosophy.
While in passive learning there is convergent thinking and a single correct answer. Students can retain a large number of facts and there is often no need for argument.
Passive learning is common in the fields of mathematics, accounting, physics, medicine, etc.
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4. Passive learning consists of only written texts while active learning seeks recognition of the material by going beyond written text: Students who are learning passively are expected to learn mostly by reading from texts. Passive learning also means that the students would learn mostly in theory and because of this would find it hard to practicalize what they learn because they didn’t really internalize it.
It involves the reading and rereading of a text, resulting in cramming, and also involves underlining, highlighting, or cut/paste. A lot of people have insulted secondary schools of our modern era because of its emphasis on passive learning, however, passive learning doesn’t really exist in the college and university settings as most of the courses taken there have a practical application to them.
Passive learning leads to a false knowledge effect, such that a student think they know about a material and how to tackle it, score a high score in a test, only to meet it in a real life situation and not make any headway at all. Passive learning only goes as far as questions and answer for the students to understand the written material.
Active learning on the other hand seeks understanding of the material beyond written texts. It goes as far as showing the students what have been written down in a real life situation, mostly by engaging them with the actual event, a slideshow presentation, or have a practical situation.
For instance, passively learning a course on how to open Microsoft word would only involve students cramming the steps from a text while actively learning it would have them go to a computer room, sit before a computer, and practice the steps.
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5. In active learning the sky is the limit to the materials that can be presented to the student for learning while in passive learning there is a limit to the amount of materials that can be presented: Active learning involves practical applications of knowledge, sotherefore there is no limit to the material that can be taught.
When enaging in a practical class or learning session, there are loads of materials that can be used to teach rather than textbooks, and when using this materials you leave yourself to an endless world of possibilities that can be tapped for learning.
With passive learning, on the other hand, there is a limit to the amount of materials that can be presented. When engaging in a teaching session or a class with only reading materials then both the teacher and students are limited to just the reading materials that they are using, leaving out there possibilities of learning.
6. Participants have to be open to spontaneity: The beauty of active learning is in the conversations heard, even though this can pose a big challenge for both the teachers and students as teachers have to plan new concepts and work with new materials everytime they want to start a teaching session, while in passive learning the other hand deals with already known materials such as books that the students have been previously using.
Tutors have to flexible, plan lessons on time and get ready for smart students who think outside the box and ask questions that are not really related to the issue at hand but are only remotely related. This too has its disadvantage. The student gets bored and may feel the need to disengage, thereby not learning anything. Students who are Intelligent and looking for ways to engage with the teachers and fellow student would find this frustrating.
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In conclusion, some classrooms have both active and passive learning methods as their teaching methods, this is good for the student but may often times confuse the teacher who may be more skilled in one than the other. My suggestion here is that schools and teaching instituikns in general should look at the quality of Information they want to impart of their students and look for teachers that have such quality information, the same goes to teachers, who should look for schools that have the method that fits them in order to meld properly.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.