By giving the activity first, students struggle, feel less confident that they understand, and put forth more mental effort toward understanding during both the activity and lecture.3) Engagement: Engagement in this study is defined as interest and enjoyment.
It is possible that the activity provides a certain amount of enjoyment for the students (although there was not a significant difference here in the first study) and that this increased enjoyment leads to greater motivation to stay on task throughout the class period.
Here is what they did: Physics students were given two activities: a lecture that covered material about the calculation of electric potential and a worksheet in which they had to use prior knowledge of electric potential energy in order to solve problems related to electric potential.
Admittedly, my knowledge of physics does not extend to this area, so below is the actual problem that was given to students in the study: Students in a single class were randomly assigned to two classrooms.
Most of the “reasons why this worked” listed above can be utilized during a lecture, without developing creative activities.
For many instructors, time is a commodity, and time to develop quality activities that are engaging and rely on students’ prior knowledge may be difficult.4) Do consider prior knowledge.
This difficulty reduces the feeling of fluency, which can lead to overconfidence in understanding.
That is, if the activity feels easy, then students will likely put in less effort toward understanding the material because they feel confident in their knowledge.
Here are my recommendations for those interested in using active learning in the classroom:1) Try exploration before direct instruction.
If you have the time, develop some activities that will require students to use prior knowledge to tackle the problems of the day.