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Why Active Learning is Better Than Passive Learning


Learning is a process whereby a person mostly referred to as a teacher pass on knowledge to recipients known as students. This process can take place in many ways including and not limited to lectures, video conferencing and referrals. This paper tries to show that active learning is better than passive learning.

To understand these forms of learning we take a look at each. Passive learning is a non-interactive way of passing knowledge from the teacher to the student. The student simply listens to what the teacher has to offer without questioning or contributing in any way. Active learning, on the other hand, is where a teacher passes on what he or she knows to the student while seeking to establish what the student also knows regarding the topic of discussion. This can be achieved through the use of open-ended questions (McManus, 2001). The main reason for having this topic under scrutiny is to get more light on why most people go to school but still remain in the same or slightly improve the state of understanding of study areas.

Why Active Learning is Better Than Passive Learning

In order to get an in-depth insight into these two learning methods, we ask the question,”what are the concentration levels in both learning methods?” Focusing on passive learning we establish that concentration levels are low among students. This is brought about by low or non-participation in the learning process. Human concentration is greatly reduced if not faced with spontaneous activities within the environment. Due to the low concentration levels, students don’t grasp entirely what they are taught (Herr, 2007). They also develop a negative attitude towards such classes. On the other hand, active learning has high concentration levels among students due to their participation in the learning process. Students feel the urge to own the knowledge being transmitted to them thus ask questions whenever need arises. This levels of participation makes them alert thus can stay focused for longer periods than students in a passive learning class.

Another question we need to ask ourselves is “how do students respond to questions in an exam after undergoing through a passive or active learning process?” Students who have been through passive learning simply download what they were taught in class. This is evidenced by the similarity on what their teacher gave them either in note form or speech. Most of these students strive to cramming rather than understanding concepts. Active learning produces students who have grasped the context being taught in a way that they can explain it without necessarily using their teachers’ words (Barr, 1995). In an exam situation you find that they write what they know about the topic being assessed rather than what the teacher said.


Active learning has been found to be better as it involves the participation of all learning participants. This also ensures that students don’t go to school to get information but to learn. It has been proved that active learning helps in self assessment of the teacher. The teacher gets to know whether the knowledge intended for the students has been grasped well. Active learning helps students to apply whatever knowledge they have effectively. This is due to the fact that the concept is properly understood and can be remembered with ease.

Works Cited;
  • Barr, R. (1995). teaching to learning. Change Magazine , 13-25.
  • Herr, N. (2007, 06 14). Passive vs. Active Learning. Retrieved 05 18, 2013, from The Source Book For Teaching Science: https://www.csun.edu/science/ref/pedagogy/active-passive/active-passive-learning.html
  • McManus, D. A. (2001). The Two Paradigms of Education and the Peer Review of Teaching. Geoscience Education , 423-434.

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