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Building Learning Activities

 

Learning activities are designed, grouped and sequenced so that they help learners achieve the course learning outcomes. Through these learning activities learners also receive feedback about their progress and are prepared for evaluation where they can demonstrate their achievement of the course learning outcomes.

Research tells us that "deep learning" is more likely to occur when learning activities engage learners and challenge them to apply, extend, and critique knowledge and skills and to use newly acquired abilities in different contexts.



Survey of Teaching-Learning Techniques

The Teaching and Learning Centre at Conestoga College has materials to help colleges faculty learn about teaching and learning strategies.  You will find here factors to consider when selecting learning activities, a taxonomy to categorize teaching methods and guidelines for selecting the methods to match learning outcomes.

Links to sites describing a range of teaching-learning methods can be found on Algonquin's Prof's resource site.

This Merlot Pedagogy portal provides links to a wide range of online resource materials related to a broad range of teaching-learning methods.

You will find a glossary of teaching learning strategies and a simple one page checklist on Tim Gauntley’s Blog.



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).

 

 

The Centre for Teaching and Learning at Georgian College has assembled information about a number of active learning strategies.


This site from California State University offers a wide variety of active learning strategies.


McGill University has posted a number of active learning resource materials to support faculty use of active learning strategies.


This site from The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence provides a list and short description of some specific active learning strategies.


Some Specific Active Learning Strategies

This site provides a step-by-step process for developing an inquiry project.


Problem-Based Learning has been well established at McMaster University for some time. This site describes their approach to PBL where it is used with large classes.


This site
was developed for teachers in Quebec colleges. While the examples relate to PBL for college physics courses, the ideas are transferable to other subjects.


Harvard Business School has posted a comprehensive website related to teaching with cases.  If you click on the resources section you will find helpful tips for case writing.

Sheridan College's Cooperative Learning Network has collected many useful links related to cooperative learning strategies. You will also find here a link to IASCE (International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education) where you can find links to additional resources.


Georgian College's Centre for Teaching and Learning has assembled resources related to collaborative/cooperative learning. Don't forget to click on both the external web resources as well as CTL resources.

Two faculty members from Durham College, Olga Labaj and Omar Salim created a professional mentoring assignment for a first year communications course. It was used to provide students with "real life" opportunities to hone their communication skills and encourages them to network with industry and community leaders. While developed for a communications course it could be easily modified for many other programs or courses.

Kate Rogers and Joe Callahan, professors at Loyalist College, developed this experiential learning model.  They caution that it is best understood through discussion rather than a stand alone document.

Check out this Prezi presentation developed by Clayton Rhodes, Cindy Austin and Brian Legree, three faculty members from Durham College.  They present a number of different tools, activities and sample lesson plans that can be used to engage college learners both online and in the classroom.

Two faculty members from Fleming College Soobia Siddiqui and Kris McBride have developed engagement tools for teaching math.  They have a tip sheet with suggestions for teachers to use to engage students when learning math.  They also provide two examples of activities that they use to teach math skills. Activity 1- A Light Lunch? and Activity 2 – Math for College Health Sciences

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?
 
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