Recent academic research criticizes the effectiveness of traditional lecturing methods and instead shows the pedagogical effectiveness of active learning methods, especially discussion-based education. Drawing on the dialogic writings of Bakhtin, Freire, and Habermas, this study reviews the five primary themes cited in active learning research: improvements in student concentration; socialization in disciplinary norms; scaffolding towards higher critical thinking; inclusion of non-traditional learning styles; and reduction of student absenteeism. Testing these findings in a discussion-based undergraduate college education classroom, this study finds significant improvements towards higher critical thinking skills, increased student concentration, and reduced student absenteeism. However, the study finds questionable effectiveness of discussion-based teaching for socializing undergraduate college education students in disciplinary norms.
Cynthia Cohen, PhD, is a teacher at Aspire Ben Holt College Preparatory Academy