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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Active Learning

Active Learning 

In his article, "Active Learning: Does it work?" Prince defines Active Learning as "any instructional method that engages students in the learning process." It requires students to 

  • do meaningful learning activities, and, 
  • think about what they are doing

Prince indicates that in practice active learning refers to activities that are introduced into the classroom. Core elements of active learning include student activity and engagement in the learning process, and it is often contrasted to the traditional model of education, where students "passively receive information from the instructor."

Creating Excitement in the Classroom - ASHE, Bonswell and Eison

In 1991, Bonswell and Eison published the report, Active Learning:Creating Excitement in the Classroom, as a response to calls from numerous leaders in the field of higher education  and a series of national reports that were urging college and university faculty "to engage students in the process of learning." The report discusses:

  • the nature of active learning
  • the empirical research on its use
  • the common obstacles and barriers that give rise to faculty members' resistance to interactive instructional techniques
  • how faculty, faculty developers, administrators, and educational researchers can make real the promise of active learning

According to Bonswell and Eison, summarizing existing literature, students must do more than just listen in order to learn. Instead, "they must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems." Additionally, the must engage in higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Please see chart below for Bloom's Taxonomy. According to the authors, strategies promoting active learning should be defined as "instructional activities involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing."

Research studies evaluating students' achievement have demonstrated that many strategies promoting active learning are comparable to lectures in promoting the mastery of content but superior to lectures in promoting the development of students' skills in thinking and writing. Cognitive research has shown that most individuals fall into a category of learning styles that do not fit into traditional lecturing.



Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy was originally published in 1956, in his work Taxonomy of Educational Objectives 

The original taxonomy consists of the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge “involves the recall of specifics and universals, the recall of methods and processes, or the recall of a pattern, structure, or setting.”
  • Comprehension “refers to a type of understanding or apprehension such that the individual knows what is being communicated and can make use of the material or idea being communicated without necessarily relating it to other material or seeing its fullest implications.”
  • Application refers to the “use of abstractions in particular and concrete situations.”
  • Analysis represents the “breakdown of a communication into its constituent elements or parts such that the relative hierarchy of ideas is made clear and/or the relations between ideas expressed are made explicit.”
  • Synthesis involves the “putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole.”
  • Evaluation engenders “judgments about the value of material and methods for given purposes.”

In 2001, a group of cognitive psychologists revised the original taxonomy by adding action verbs to each category, in hopes of capturing the cognitive processes associated with each. This resulted in the following:

  • Remember (Recognizing, Recalling)
  • Understand (Interpreting, Exemplifying, Classifying, Summarizing, Inferring, Comparing, Explaining)
  • Apply (Executing, Implementing)
  • Analyze (Differentiating, Organizing, Attributing)
  • Evaluate (Checking, Critiquing)
  • Create (Generating, Planning, Producing)

Adapted from "Bloom's Taxonomy" by Patricia Armstrong, Centre for Teaching, Vanderbilt University,