Who’s doing all the work? Who’s having all the fun?
Part 2: Five adaptable steps to active learning
by Cynthia J. Brame, CFT Associate Director
I recently wrote about Barb Stengel’s challenge to ask ourselves “Who’s doing all the work? Who’s having all the fun?” in our classes. I find that Barb’s questions keep me thinking about the fun and work of learning and help me remember that it’s my students who should be having that fun (and doing that work J).
I’m really intrigued with learning approaches that have students grapple with problems before instruction, such as productive failure, inventing for future learning, problem-based learning. When done well, with the supports that help keep students moving forward, they absolutely adhere to Barb’s challenge to keep our students working and having fun working. I also think we can apply her questions to help us incorporate active learning in smaller ways too, though.
For example, I teach a segment of a biochemistry course that focuses on common metabolic pathways, including the dreaded citric acid/Krebs cycle. I want my students to know a bit about regulation of the citric acid cycle, but I think it’s pretty pointless to memorize all the regulatory molecules and how they function. Instead, what I do is to tell the students what the regulatory molecules are, one at a time, and ask them to use their understanding of the pathway to predict … [more]