Active Methodologies

Active Methodologies


Competency Development and Deep Learning

The so-called active methodologies are a set of strategies, methods and techniques that place students – regardless of their educational level – at the center of attention and as the protagonists of their own learning process.
This implies, among other things, full confidence in their ability and self-discipline to self supervise the development of their studies.

These educational models promote teamwork and encourage critical, analytical and creative thinking, leaving aside the long-obsolete processes of memorizing and repeating content.
They are ways of working in the classroom that encourage students to develop their skills, moving from knowing to knowing-doing, thus preparing them for real-life situations in their current or future professional environment.

Flipped Classroom:

A practical active methodology for on-line learning

So-called “Flipped Classroom” is probably the active methodology that has given the best results in on-line learning, both in schools and universities.
It is a mixed asynchronous teaching system, where a part of the classroom hours is used for self-study – also called self-supervised study – or student collaboration.

For example, if a subject has eight credits and the classes have a duration of two academic units – totaling approximately three hours – the student should dedicate five hours to self-study, either individually or in collaborative groups.

The methodology has a number of advantages, among them:

  • Shortening of lecturer expository sessions
  • Controlled progress, at a pace that best suits the study group as well as individuals
  • Knowledge leveling of the study group, prior to a session
  • More in-depth learning sessions, primarily oriented at the exploration, explanation and application of content
  • Improved knowledge retention, as demonstrated in How We Learn.

Between Seeing & Hearing and Doing there is a positive 30% gap in knowledge retention two weeks after the subject has been taught.

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There is abundant evidence to affirm that synchronous on-line sessions ought to be designed very differently than in-person sessions.
First of all, students should have a much more active role in a on-line session compared to what is usual in synchronous- and face-to-face teaching.
This can be achieved with different active methodologies, such as questions, debates, forums, presentations, short peer evaluations, and other more playful activities.

Secondly, there is ample empirical evidence that concentration and attention levels begin to wane after approximately 20 minutes.
Thus, expositive content blocks that last for more than half an hour without an activity or break are not recommended.
Similarly, it has been demonstrated that in the afternoon learning capacity decreases considerably due to fatigue, which is why it is recommended to concentrate most of the “hard” knowledge tranfer in the morning hours and dedicate the afternoon to more dynamic activities such as application exercises, collaborative work and assessments, among others.

Considering the above, our recommendation for each eight-hour module is to divide it into at least two hours of self-study and six lecturing hours.
Having said this, experience shows that incubation plays a very important role in the learning process.
In other words: retention and understanding of the subject matter improve considerably if there is a discontinuity or “pause” period between the readings or self-managed exercises and their discussion or application in the classroom.
Thus, the proposed structure for the sessions is as graphed below, with a pronounced preference for “Flipped Classroom”.

Mayeutic Method

Socratic Seminar

The Socratic Method (Socratic Seminar. Adler, M.J., The Paideia Proposal – 1982), also called mayeutic, is based on the theory of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who invites students to an internal search, from the heart, to discover that they already know the truth and that they can reach it through questions.
It considers the importance of teaching them how to develop individual- and critical thinking, rather than forcing them to memorize supposedly correct answers.

Socratic Seminars are highly structured, employ constructive dialogue or appreciative inquiry, and are typically based on literature or artistic analysis, but can cover a wide range of other topics.
The role of the facilitator is both to raise questions and to answer students’ questions with counter-questions, oriented toward the search for possible answers.

It has been demonstrated that this method stimulates divergent thinking over convergent thinking and that it produces favorable results in different disciplines such as linguistics, synthesis of ideas, evaluation of concepts and inferential reasoning, which deepens in proceeding from general premises to a necessary and specific conclusion.


Problem- or Project Based Learning

PBL is a method that has its origins in the Department of Health at McMaster University (CAN) in the late 1960s.
It is student-centered, and driven by a presented challenge, where study groups actively engage in solving real, complex, multi-factorial problems.
Students identify what they know, what they need to know, and seek the appropriate way to obtain the additional information required to solve the problem at hand.

The role of the instructor is similar to that of the moderator in Socratic Seminars or Brainstorming, for example, to guide, supervise the correct development of the process, maintain the mental discipline of the participants, ask leading questions and stimulate discussion.
Like other student-centered methods, PBL aims to overcome the limitations of Industrial Revolution-era education – based on memorization – and is the product of a more advanced understanding of human learning processes.

Although originally geared toward education in health sciences, PBL – and similar methods – have since become fundamental tools of universal learning in secondary-, higher- and university education.