Does Active Learning Work? A Good Question, But Not the Right One!

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

It’s not easy to show that active learning works. However, a combination of active learning and other types of learning can contribute significantly to deep learning.

A while back, Paul delivered a keynote on Educational Urban Legends at Europlat17, the European Psychology Learning and Teaching Conference. Doug Bernstein, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and Courtesy Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida delivered a fascinating keynote as well, which was titled ‘Does Active Learning Work? Good Question, But Not the Right One!’.

Bernstein came up with this question as it is analogous to a question asked in the 1950s when there were many debates around the use of psychotherapy, namely ‘Does Psychotherapy Work?’ However, this was also the wrong question as, according to Gordon Paul (1969) it should have been: Which therapies lead to a clinical meaningful progression…

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