Active Learning at Eikei: What is active learning?

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Active Learning at Eikei: What is active learning?

Eikei University uses active learning methods in all courses to develop students窶 thinking abilities and practical skills for creating a better society.

This all sounds good, but what is active learning?
Does it mean participating in discussions and group projects instead of listening to lectures?
Let us share some basic ideas of active leaning and why we think it is so important.

Active leaning came out of the criticism of traditional university lectures, which had the form of one-directional delivery of knowledge from the teacher to a large number of students. Against this background, the term, 窶彗ctive learning,窶 came to be used in North American higher education contexts since the 1980s, signifying a broad scope for creating a better educational environment to encourage students窶 active participation.

In Japan, the term 窶彗ctive learning窶 was introduced as a buzzword for government educational reforms in the 2010s, and more recently it has also been reformulated as 窶彗ctive, dialogical, and deep learning (shutaiteki taiwateki de fukai manabi)窶.

New forms for the classroom?

Since the idea of active learning was a reaction to the traditional form of education, the new forms of classroom activity, including groupwork, presentation, and discussion, became the focus of attention, while the traditional methods of receiving information and ideas, often represented by lectures, were considered categorically as too 窶徘assive.窶

Forms to contents

However, more recently, this tendency has been criticized as well, for while new forms received a lot of attention, the critical content of what was actually to be learned seemed left behind.

Indeed, if one values students窶 active participation, then it seems clear that listening to lectures or reading books while carefully taking notes also requires very active engagement. On the other hand, making superficially clever remarks in discussions or acquiring formal presentation skills can be simply managed as required tasks, without leading to significant learning. 

Therefore, in recent literature, the educational scholar, Kayo Matsushita, proposes 窶彭eep active learning,窶 that focuses on the quality and content of the learning (Matsushita and Kyoto University 2015). Likewise, L. Dee Fink (2013) suggests the need for a holistic view of active learning.

When we aim to grasp active learning holistically, 窶徨eceiving information and ideas,窶 which was once considered 窶徘assive,窶 comes back into the picture. Here, this engagement with new content is as important as the other elements of active learning, including 窶彳xperiences窶 of actually participating in presentations or discussions or by carefully observing other people doing these activities, as well as 窶徨eflection窶 on what, how, and why one is learning.

This is why Eikei窶冱 Active Learning Philosophy and Guideline (link) specifies that all courses must incorporate the following elements: 1) receiving information, 2) student-centered activities (experiences), and 3) reflection or evaluation.

Typical 窶彗ctive learning窶 activities, including discussions and presentations, are important as students窶 experiences (2), but they alone do not ensure deep active learning. Through actively receiving information and ideas from lectures and other material (1) and critically reflecting on activities by oneself or with one窶冱 peers (3), students can gain knowledge and develop both their thinking and practical skills.

Active learning and competencies

Through active learning, Eikei aims to help students develop five competencies (foresight, strategy, global collaboration, energetic drive, and self-improvement) by the time they graduate.

Rather than only acquiring knowledge and information within a certain discipline, students involved through active learning methods are encouraged to connect knowledge with experiences or reflect on knowledge from multiple angles and dimensions. This training helps students to develop competencies, which they can make use of by translating what they have learned at university into business, civil society, or their personal lives. 

Neither active learning nor competency acquisition can be achieved in isolation. Instead, what is required is collaborative engagement with friends, peers, teachers, and communities, as well as various tools, machines, and environments. Through this kind of diverse collaboration, Eikei aims to develop its own style of active learning.



Kyoikukatei Kenkyukai. ed.シ域蕗閧イ隱イ遞狗皮ゥカ莨夂キィシ 2016縲弱後い繧ッ繝繧」繝悶サ繝ゥ繝シ繝九Φ繧ー縲阪r閠縺医k縲乗擲豢矩、ィ蜃コ迚育、セ.

Matsushita, K. and Kyoto University, Center for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education, eds.シ域收荳倶スウ莉」繝サ莠ャ驛ス螟ァ蟄ヲ鬮倡ュ画蕗閧イ遐皮ゥカ髢狗匱謗ィ騾イ繧サ繝ウ繧ソ繝シ邱ィシ2015縲弱ョ繧」繝シ繝励サ繧「繧ッ繝繧」繝悶Λ繝シ繝九Φ繧ーシ壼、ァ蟄ヲ謗域・ュ繧呈キア蛹悶&縺帙k縺溘a縺ォ縲丞求闕画嶌謌ソ.

Matsushita, K.シ域收荳倶スウ莉」シ 2017縲梧キア縺蟄ヲ縺ウ縺ォ縺翫¢繧狗衍隴倥→繧ケ繧ュ繝ォシ壽蕗遘大崋譛画ァ縺ィ豎守畑諤ァ縺ォ辟ヲ轤ケ繧偵≠縺ヲ縺ヲ縲阪取蕗閧イ逶ョ讓吶サ隧穂セ。蟄ヲ莨夂エ隕√17:1-10.

Fink, L. D. 2013. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. Jossey-Bass.