Active Learning: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?
By The Fullstack Academy Team
One of the biggest challenges in education is keeping students engaged, which can impact their ability to learn. Some of the common factors that negatively impact student engagement include a lack of real-world application, lecture heaviness, and delivery of information.
Active learning has become popularly recognized as a powerful approach that goes beyond passive listening and memorization to engage students. According to a recent Harvard study, students scored higher on tests following active learning instruction compared to a traditional lecture format. Plus, courses that implemented active learning received higher evaluations from students.
Read on to learn how active learning not only fosters knowledge retention, but also helps develop soft skills and build confidence on the individual level.
What is Active Learning?
Active learning is a teaching strategy that requires learners to participate and engage through thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating. Rather than listening alone, students practice skills, solve problems, ponder complex questions, make decisions, propose solutions, and explain ideas in their own words—both through writing and discussion.
What Are the Benefits of Active Learning?
While the ultimate goal of active learning is to improve student outcomes in the classroom, it can be just as effective in fostering personal growth and development. Benefits of active learning include:
Increased Engagement and Motivation
In an active learning environment, students directly engage with new information through interactive activities and problem-solving. Not only does this help students develop a deeper understanding of the material, but it also makes the class more interesting by building a personal connection with what they’re learning.
Active learning encourages students to share their thoughts, build on ideas, and defend their opinions. They’ll also practice skills and demonstrate knowledge through real-world problems and activities, becoming confident in their abilities as they transition into their career.
Soft Skills Development
Through active learning, students gain more than just knowledge and expertise. By working through real-world problems, analyzing case studies, and developing viable solutions, students will improve their critical thinking and decision-making abilities. In most active learning environments, students will also have the opportunity to work together, improving their collaboration and communication skills. In tech career training, in particular, these skills will prepare students for success in the workforce.
In a traditional learning environment, instructors mainly assess knowledge retention through quizzes and exams based on weeks of lessons. In an active learning environment, students participate in discussions and other activities, allowing instructors to better gauge their working knowledge. This helps ensure that students are getting the most out of the course.
Although active learning benefits all students, according to a recent study by the Proceedings of the National Science Academy, it positively impacts underrepresented and low-income students the most. As a result, this helps reduce achievement gaps, which is crucial to improving income inequality and increasing diversity in the workplace.
Active Learning Activities
There are many different ways active learning can be incorporated into lectures. Some examples of activities include:
Real-life applications and case studies
It’s important to remember active learning activities will differ depending on a number of factors, including teaching style, content, and student needs.
How We Leverage Active Learning
In tech training, active learning is crucial for both skill development and career readiness. It allows students to gain hands-on experience with real-world tools standard within their chosen industry—like Python for Data Analytics, GitHub for Coding, and much more.
At Virginia Tech Bootcamps, active learning takes center stage throughout all of our bootcamps. Through this dynamic approach, students learn inside and outside the classroom, gaining a deeper understanding of concepts and applications.
Our online bootcamp model also fosters a sense of community, encouraging students to share their ideas, tackle challenges, and think creatively both individually and in a group setting. Students graduate with the technical and soft skills necessary to thrive in bootcamp and beyond—and can continue to use active learning principles to evolve throughout their career journey. Take the first step towards a rewarding career in tech with one of our highly-rated bootcamps.