In recent years there has been a gradual shift from an emphasis on teaching to learning in higher education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a student’s active involvement in the learning process enhances learning (Freeman et al., 2014; Cherney, 2008; Kim et al., 2013; Chiu and Cheng, 2017).
In recent years there has been a gradual shift from an emphasis on teaching to learning in higher education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a student’s active involvement in the learning process enhances learning (Freeman et al., 2014; Cherney, 2008; Kim et al., 2013; Chiu and Cheng, 2017). Active learning is a teaching strategy that was initially defined by Bonwell and Eison (1991) as “anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing”. Active learning is a teaching strategy that has resulted in many positive learning outcomes such as improved assessment scores (Freeman et al., 2014), increased student memory of course content (Cherney, 2008), improved critical thinking skills (Kim et al., 2013) and increased student creativity and innovation (Chiu and Cheng, 2017).
Active learning is a teaching strategy that features heavily on the new BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management (LM105). Active learning is in contrast with a teacher dominated, teacher-directed and teacher-centred practice where the teacher talks most of the time and the students answer the teacher’s questions (Børte, Nesje, & Lillejord, 2020). In LM105, active learning is specific to the demands of working in the fitness industry and the active learning activities include demonstrating and teaching various exercises, role play during exercise classes, in-class group activities and discussions, regular self-assessment of progress, use of digital technologies to enhance learning, and problem-based learning.
The programme content of LM105 aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to work with a variety of clients across a range of real-world scenarios. Students are qualified as fitness instructors after 1st year of the programme which will allow them to gain part-time work in the fitness industry in the early stages of their 4-year degree. Active learning is a vital element of LM105, and it makes the programme of study enjoyable, challenging, social and highly effective from a teaching and learning standpoint.
For more information on LM105: https://www.ul.ie/courses/bachelor-science-exercise-health-fitness-management
Børte, K., Nesje, K., & Lillejord, S. (2020). Barriers to student active learning in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-19.
Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. 1991 ASHE-ERIC higher education reports. ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University, One Dupont Circle, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20036-1183.
Cherney, I. D. (2008). The effects of active learning on students’ memories for course content. Active learning in higher education, 9(2), 152-171.
Chiu, P. H. P., & Cheng, S. H. (2017). Effects of active learning classrooms on student learning: a two-year empirical investigation on student perceptions and academic performance. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(2), 269-279.
Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.
Kim, K., Sharma, P., Land, S. M., & Furlong, K. P. (2013). Effects of active learning on enhancing student critical thinking in an undergraduate general science course. Innovative Higher Education, 38(3), 223-235.
Dr. Frank Nugent is the Course Director of the BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, UL. He has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, is an accredited S&C coach through the Sport Ireland Institute and is a Rowing Coach at UL.
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