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Eastern Region Colleges ABC Institute

Building Learning Activities

Active Learning Strategies (general)

In their book, “The Case for Constructivist Classrooms”, Brooks & Brooks (1993) provide a view of “constructivist” classrooms. They identify 12 ways that constructivist teachers build learning experiences for students. Constructivist teachers…

* encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative.

* use raw data and primary sources, along with manipulative, interactive and physical materials.

* use cognitive terminology such as “classify”, “analyze”, “predict”, and “create” when framing tasks.

* allow student responses to drive lessons, shift instructional strategies, and alter content.

* inquire about students’ understandings of concepts before sharing their own understandings of these concepts.

* encourage students to engage in dialogue, both with the teacher and with one another.

* encourage student inquiry by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask questions of each other.

* seek elaboration of student’s initial responses.

* engage students in experiences that might engender contradictions to their initial hypotheses and then encourage discussion.

* allow wait time after posing questions.

* provide time for students to construct relationships and create metaphors.

* nurture students’ natural curiosity through frequent use of the learning cycle model (discovery, concept introduction and concept application).

Questions to consider when reviewing learning activities:

* Will the learning activities, collectively, lead learners to achieve the learning outcomes?

* Are there a variety of activities that allow multiple paths to meet the learning outcomes?

* Are the learning activities individualized to meet the needs and abilities of the learners?

* Do the learning activities engage students and promote active learning?