Active Learning

Jeffry Educator Québec, Quebec Posted   Latest  

I have been visiting Automotive and Diesel programs for the last twenty five years and there are some recurring conditions that I see. Some are good; some are not so good in my opinion.

First, I would like to applaud those programs that run a clean, organized and tight ship. Believe me, your work does not go unnoticed.

But instead of focusing on tangibles in this post I would like to focus on teaching and learning. Being a lifelong learner myself, and an instructor have made me keenly aware of the importance of the ways that we learn. Typically this is codified as pedagogy with andragogy being the term for study of adult learning. I have long held the opinion that this the most important subject for instructors to study. Most all of us have the nuts-and-bolts of our trade, but few have studied how the learner learns.

As instructors we typically teach as we were taught. This usually means that there are usually lectures by a sage-on-the-stage style method where the instructor tells the subject. This is often backed up by reading the chapter and answering the chapter questions. Little is challenging in this listen and regurgitate style where the student often loses focus and interest.

There are a number of issues with this type of learning, but in the end I found that my students weren’t all that successful with this model. And if they weren’t successful I didn’t feel successful either. So I searched for other ways. There are many that I will list as topics that you may research on your own.

Team-Based Learning

Project Based Learning

Socratic Questioning

Flipped Classroom

Just to name a few. All of these follow an active “student centered learning” theme. My teaching is not any one of these but a blend of them all, and more, that I use in different ways depending on needs.

I have been critical of PowerPoint as well. I’m really not against the use of PowerPoint, just the miss application of the software. I have half jokingly made up a law that states, “The greater the number of words on a slide, the greater the chance that the presenter will read the slides”. It’s yet to be disproven.

Over the years I have spoken to many of my colleagues about student centered learning. I have learned much through these interactions all over the world and continue to share my observations in my hopes to help others. The attached link and white paper is the most recent example in support of active, student centered learning in a controlled study. I would hope that if your’e interested that you at least read the abstract. There’s good stuff here.



At ConsuLab we design our products to engage the learner with hands-on learning and our student activities are designed with this in mind as well. In the end we are all hoping to develop lifelong learners that can adapt and change to needs that have been yet to be identified. I hope that you find the article useful.

Martin Inspector
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Martin Default

Mr. Curtis, Thanks for the HomeWork. I'll add a little that worked for me. When I started teaching, I use what methods I knew. As a BSA leader "The EDGE Method" is what I used and montessori-nw​.​org/what-is-montes… The EDGE method is a four step method for teaching a skill: Explain Demonstrate Guide Enable Explain First explain what you will be doing. Tell them the steps…

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Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin Default

Hi Martin. I see that Jeffie hooked you too! Regards,

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Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin Default

Hi Jeff. I just read your post "over there" and here too, along with the linked article. We in the motive power field should naturally fall somewhere in between with a blended learning that adapts to specific topics and maximises opportunities for student engagement. However, as we well know, we have to start with learners who are responsible for, motivated and enthused about their own…

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