Gotta love Breaking Science News!

I normally prettify link text, but in this case, the URL says it all:


Raise your hand if you find this shocking. (Didn’t think I’d see any hands…)

Per the article:

Freeman and a group of colleagues analyzed 225 studies of undergraduate STEM teaching methods. The meta-analysis, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that teaching approaches that turned students into active participants rather than passive listeners reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation.”

It’s good to have some serious research behind this notion. But we already knew.

“The current study didn’t directly address the effectiveness of one new twist in the traditional lecturing format: massive open online courses that can beam talks to thousands or even millions of students. But Freeman says the U.S. Department of Education has conducted its own meta-analysis of distance learning, and it found there was no difference in being lectured at in a classroom versus through a computer screen at home. So, Freeman says: “If you’re going to get lectured at, you might as well be at home in bunny slippers.”

Precisely. Lecture is sometimes the best we can do when we are addressing individuals whose motivations for learning are individual and unlinked.

But in organizations, our learners already have relationships to one another — we’re trying to facilitate the formation of those relationships in ways which improve the ability of our people to work effectively together. The way humans learn to work together is by working together, preferably under the supervision of people who know a lot about the task at hand and can provide guidance when things get difficult.

Our learners are not at home in bunny slippers. They are dressed and present in our workplaces. We should be leveraging that advantage when we design our training programs.