How students learn
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Active learning is the process in which students engage in activities such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content. Cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and the use of case methods and simulations are some approaches that promote active learning.
When students are actively engaged, they think deeper about the course content, and enjoy their learning. This can be through a range of activities: group work, project work, interactive online activities, peer teaching, and so on. Students must be actively participating in and reflecting on the activities to enhance their higher order thinking capabilities.
The key principles of active learning are:
1. The task has purpose and relevance to the students.
Putting it into practice: Applications in Health Sciences
1. Health educators can use questioning strategies to develop critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving in students. Word your questions so that they challenge the students to use a higher level of cognitive development (analysing, evaluating and creating). For example, asking a student to define a type of x-ray would test their ability to remember, but asking a student to assess a request to perform that x-ray on a patient with particular symptoms would test ability to evaluate, and prompts the student to think more deeply about the material.
2. Self-evaluation is a type of self-directed learning which allows students to assess their own performance. As a result, they become more independent, and are able to identify knowledge and understanding weaknesses. The aim of the self-evaluation activity is to assist students to identify strengths and weaknesses in their learning, to set their own performance goals, and to increase their satisfaction with their learning - all key elements of the clinical and professional work environments. However, be aware that students can tend to be overly critical of their own performance
Wilson, L & Rockstraw, L 2012, Human simulation for nursing and health professions, Springer Pub Co, New York, NY.