Methods of developing an active mind (Active-participative methods)


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Pedagogical questions:

  • How can the subjects of knowledge be activated in the process of their self teaching and training?
  • What are the theoretical recommendations related to activation and which are the methodological resources that can be used for this purpose?
  • How should we act in situations of learning when we suggest the use of a particular teaching method?

Currently, the European school strives for a more participatory educational practice while trainees are sensitized towards interactive training issues and seek permanently new solutions to ensure the way we develop the school activation, as well as to improve those already known.

Active-participative methods are ways of student-centered educational action and, more specifically, centered on his being taught, mentally and practically, under the terms of his/her cognitive/intellectual, physical/ psychomotor, affective- motivational and volitional involvement.

Active methods have been long and widely applied, and the educational practice has proved their effectiveness. Personal reflection, conversation, explanation, demonstration, experiment-based learning, learning by means of experimental and practical works, learning by researching documents and historical vestiges, learning through discovery, learning by problematization, cooperative learning, learning through modelling, adventure-learning, electronic learning, drills and problem-solving, problem-based learning, role-playing-based learning, case study-based learning, all these are examples of methods of developing the students’ active mind.

It would be wrong to claim that traditional teaching methods are not effective and only modern methods are effective: any specific method has either particular meanings and specific limits, determined by the educational context as well as by its users’ personalities (teachers’ and students’).

  • Personal Reflection is a statement of the student’s active mind, of the fact that he asks himself/ herself questions and that he/she appears interested in getting some active knowledge-based search and reflective research. Urge your students directly and explicitly to reflect, in the process of knowledge, on the ideas, on the opinions and on the consequences of some laws, on the impact of some phenomena, on some cases, situations, specific events, on the possibilities of self-assessment or assessment of the joint effort of a group, etc., and aim at their building up their habit and need of inner reflection!
  • Explanation is an active teaching method because the searching process of explanations for the student, for his/her colleagues and for his/her teacher fosters the interaction of the learner with the material that is read and learnt. It ensures the premises of lifelong learning in various situations and permanent education.
  • Demonstration is a modern heuristic method which has established itself as a conversation of a higher quality than the conversation method, with a high potential activator. It involves active and interactive relations, students achieving mutual verbal exchanges (teacher-student and student-student), whose educational purpose is the students’ self- discovery through their own efforts, thus ensuring (inter) active learning.
  • Experiment-based Learning is an active teaching method because students take advantage of certain knowledge and practice their intellectual/cognitive/psycho motor/practical competences, providing formative and cumulative feedback for the teacher. It offers the possibility of studying phenomena in extremely varied conditions, helps students to understand science as a process.
  • Learning by means of experimental/practical works is an active teaching method because it ensures, at the students ‘ level, the premises of the manifestation of their role as genuine actors of their own goods/works/projects.
  • Learning by researching documents and historical vestiges is an active teaching method because, for the purpose of discovering new truths, students are supposed to follow active-participative approaches, such as: reconstitution of facts, moments, historical events, writing comments and critical analysis, correlation of facts and historical events, the discovery of truths, building up a way of thinking historically.
  • Learning by problematization is an active teaching method since it determines the students to express through scientific means of expression (definitions, taxonomies, tables, drawings, diagrams, charts, etc.) their new knowledge and to integrate them in their cognitive system.
  • Learning through modelling is an active teaching method because by creating models, students acquire modelling techniques, pursuing and developing a series of competences and skills, intuition, imagination, creativity, etc.
  • Adventure-Learning is an active teaching method as it addresses students a challenge to action, study, investigation, exploration, research, creation, adventure, extracurricular environments (often natural environments).
  • Electronic Learning (e-learning) is an active teaching method as it turns the student into a producer of documentary resources: educational software, Web sites on a particular subject, school or personal pages, participating in debates in e-groups.
  • Drills and problem solving method is an active teaching method because the student “learns” to solve problems and exercises through a complex activity of practicing certain formal skills, along with knowing or discovering some algorithmic-heuristic strategies.
  • Problem-based learning is an active teaching method because it requires students to identify solutions to these problems, through cognitive and creative efforts.
  • Role-playing-based Learning is an active teaching method because students  develop imagination, discover new knowledge, approaches and experiences, develop the courage to act freely and spontaneously, develop their active, critical  and creative mind.
  • Learning based on case study is an active teaching method because it makes students investigate, collect information, in the most diverse ways, to systematize and structure them, making them operationalize, contributing to the formation, by sharing, of several variants of case solving and, implicitly, to decision-making.
  • Teaching games-based Learning is an active teaching method because expressing a task in the form of a game stimulates students a lot, involves them deeply in training, it activates them in all respects-cognitively, affectionately and from a psycho motor point of view-and motivates them to gladly volunteer and become involved in education.

Support the idea that learning represents a personal activity, which wholly engages the learners. The use of these methods involves training from a cognitive, but also metacognitive perspective and contributes to increasing independence in learning and to acquiring autonomy in learning by students.

Article written by: Ramona Humeniuc, teacher of physics at „Horea, Closca and Crisan” National College, Alba Iulia, Alba county, Romania

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