India Today
Education Learning Image Credit: India Today
Education Learning Image Credit: India Today

From Passive To Active Learning

Inattentive, unfocused minds in classrooms are nothing new. The mindset needs to shift from how well teachers teach to how well students learn to address this problem

Jamshed Bharucha

Consider a typical university class. Students drift into the classroom. Some gravitate to the front of the class, some wander towards the back, and some do not attend. The professor lectures for 45 minutes, taking a few questions. The class is adjourned and students move to their next class. This daily pattern repeats itself until a few weeks or days before the exam when the students try to mug up everything. This is passive learning because students sit and receive information with little active engagement.


Until the exams, which could be months away, there is hardly any evidence of learning. How many students have understood what was presented in class? How many have registered more than a few phrases, and that too without comprehending? How many were tuned out altogether? For those who took notes, were the notes imbued with meaning or were they mere dictation? We kid ourselves as teachers if we think most of our students understand the lectures most of the time. We all know how to nod as if we are listening attentively. However interesting we professors believe our lectures are, it’s difficult to keep the attention of emotion-laden adolescents class after class, week after week, month after month.


In active learning, the student participates in the learning process. This engages the student’s brain so that real learning can take place. Engagement and

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