How Students Experience Active and Passive Learning in Science Class

As authors Bigelow, Harvey, Karp, and Miller (2004) explain, part of social justice in the classroom includes a participatory and experiential environment, and to not provide that would be socially unjust. Therefore, I wanted to figure out how I can engage students in a way of learning that supports deeper learning, thinking, and engagement by implementing active learning instructional strategies. Why active learning instruction? As Minhas (2012) studied, direct instruction is significantly less effective for student’s learning and engagement, and active learning instruction is shown to produce significant learning gains and engagement. Therefore, my research investigates: How can I can the students in my physics classes to engage in active learning? In order to arrive at a solution, I needed to understand how my students were currently experiencing learning in science class. To guide this investigation, I answered these subquestions: How are students experiencing learning through direct instruction? How are students experiencing learning through active learning instruction? And when do students participate in science class? The results are as follows: students want some initial direct instruction, and find most of the strategies very helpful; students find most active learning strategies very helpful, after some direct instruction; and students prefer to participate in small groups, and not during whole class discussions.