Main obstacles are to reaching active learning targets

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The purpose of this inquiry is to evaluate how teachers can promote active learning and what the main obstacles are to reaching this target. It will explore and investigate the problem from the perspective of student teachers, teacher trainers, teachers and pupils in school. All these groups have evaluated how active learning is applied and what the obstacles are to active learning within Urdu classes.

It aims to indicate clearly how schools and teachers need to change their teaching style in Urdu classes. Many indicators of active learning can be seen, but there are many obstacles, which should be overcome.

This research, carried out during my first placement, took the form of qualitative information-gathering through structured and semi-structured interviews with key informants (the students and members of staff involved), the observation of two of the group's lessons, and an analysis of existing questionnaires completed by pupils. There is a brief consideration of ethical issues raised by the research process, some of the limitations of the inquiry, and some possible avenues for further exploration.

In the main section of the assignment, I shall be considering experience through examination and careful observations that show, that within passive learning, although it is a primitive form of learning, there is also some kind of active learning taking place.

I shall attempt to evaluate these qualitative and subjective findings in relation to one another and to secondary sources including recent research in this area, finding this out from my brief experience as well as from that of the students concerned. The various teaching and learning techniques in other subjects may be effective but there are still some factors that are posing a great barrier to active learning in Urdu classes.

The barriers involve curriculum, content, teaching style, school and classroom environment, behaviour and social factors. In order to create a better active learning environment within the Urdu class, it is clear that more autonomy should be given to teachers there.

In a concluding section, I look at alternative styles as an ongoing, interactive process, needing to feed the experience gained back into the development of these styles, and how this appears to be managed at my placement school. The study has also shown that pupils have different approaches to learning. The role of the teacher is to be a mediator of knowledge and skills, he or she must therefore be able to support the pupils and to make them understand the learning material on a deeper level.

Finally, I shall consider what implications the experience of carrying out school-based research in this area might have for my continuing profession development.

Introduction:

"Our intention is to create an education system tailored to the needs of the individual pupil, in which young people----are more able to mix academic, practical and work-based styles of learning. We will introduce greater choice of what and where to study and make it easier to combine academic and vocational learning. (DFES 2005:44)

Active learning is one of the most important goals in the British school scenario, and this includes the concept of a "learning society". The important characteristics of the learning society are that the learners must use their own initiative and be responsible for their own progress. The purpose of this research is to evaluate how teachers may promote active learning and to establish the main obstacles to accomplishing this. During the last decade, the new metaknowledge of teaching and learning, new concepts of learning environment and new knowledge of the diversity of the learners have suggested several starting points for creating new practices at schools. However, Monique Boekaerts (1997), as a researcher of self-regulated learning, describes a recent situation in schools and society as follows:

"Most class rooms are still populated with students who are not self-regulating their learning, and most teachers are not yet equipped to turn students into self-regulated learners. In most cases, teachers are still steering and guiding the learning process, a situation that does not invite students to use or develop their cognitive or motivational self-regulatory skills. Usually, students are expected to reproduce and apply the new information that the teacher has presented or made available. (Boekaerts, 1997, P-162).

I will refer throughout this assignment to recent learning styles relevant to these developments.

The School Context,

I had my first placement in a comprehensive girls' school where 70% students are from an ethnic minority background. The school deploys over 100 teachers from diverse backgrounds. My subject area as a trainee was MFL Urdu and I observed that there had been a tendency towards learning through passive teaching over a number of years in Urdu classes. The behaviour in general of the pupils was good but with occasional instances of bad behaviour. Most of the pupils were from a minority ethnic background, learning to improve their language. The major problem that students faced related to reading and writing skills because of the esoteric writing style of the Urdu language.

Speaking and listening skills were good due to their cultural and social environment. There were also some pupils who were forced to learn Urdu by either parents or their peers and who were there despite having no interest in the subject. There was a change within the school at management level and a move towards a "change" in teaching methodology and assessment. Higher management was trying to implement the OFSTED lesson observation criteria throughout the department. The behaviour management system was also subject to changes: Urdu teachers had problems in understanding them, and in implementing them in the classes, and there was also the huge task of assessing the pupils in respect of all four essential skills within MFL (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing). I observed a few lessons that did not go well because of the behaviour problem, and the teaching style there was more passive than active.

During the training, I had implemented various strategies within the class, some of which worked very well but some did not. I tried to change the class atmosphere by using different active forms of learning and teaching; some classes appreciated the new strategies and techniques whereas some provided insight into the problems that could arise when introducing active forms of learning and teaching within the Urdu classes.

The inquiry offers a tentative assessment of the experience acquired in cases where I introduced the new alternative methods in Urdu classes at my placement school. I was influenced by the idea of 'ground theory research' (Bell 2005).

I began with a series of questions rather than an existing hypothesis in order to generate criteria for assessing the effectiveness of active learning within the Urdu classes as a part of the research process.

To this end, I aimed to learn about the thinking behind the learning style and its structure, looked into the expectations of those involved, tried to gauge the extent to which these were being met, and generally explored the experience of staff and students. From this process the following key aspects of the research design and implementation emerged. I will evaluate my findings in section 4.

The questionnaire.

Selection of participants.

Choice and Personalization.

Collaborative provision.

What are the benefits or drawbacks of a variety of learning contexts?

What are pupils' experiences of different learning styles?

Literature Review:

Active learning is an advance that allows pupils to take responsibility for their own learning. It may use a mixture of methods to generate different contexts in which pupils cooperate with subject matter. The common goal is the stipulation of opportunities for learners to assimilate new information, concepts or skills into their own mental representation through rephrasing, rehearsing and practice. Activities can contain collaborative group work, investigation with materials inside or outside the classroom, and peer teaching, as well as self-guided coaching, lecture and individual seatwork. Most important, to be enthusiastically involved, students must connect in such higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. (Chickering and Gamson 1987; Bonwell and Eison 1991).

In modern learning psychology many concepts, such as dependable learning, self-directed learning, self-regulated learning, sovereign learning, autonomous learning, problem solving and active learning, have the same point even though they initiate from somewhat different theoretical frameworks. The frequent element is a student's active impact on learning and a learner's attachment in the learning process. The active role may be manifested in individual and cooperative learning strategies (Simons, 1997)

Active learning probably has more perceptible effects for learners than passive forms of learning. Learners are supposed to be more motivated and interested when their mental activity is challenged and when they can make decisions about their own learning. Active learning provided the framework that guided this project. Important characteristics of active learning are:

1) active engagement of students in learning

2) pupils taking responsibility for their own learning, and sometimes for the learning of others

3) teachers providing activities that facilitate active learning, instead of simply transferring information

.

Active learning activities promote a higher level of learning through an emphasis on pupils' abilities to control their learning environments and develop interdependent or cooperative relationships with other pupils (Vos,2001).

Active learning promotes a higher level of learning through the process of meta cognition. The concern of metacognition goes beyond students' identification of their knowledge level to a focus on the learners' insight regarding what they know (Flavel, 1979, Hacker, 1998).

Active learning strategies emphasise constructivist qualities in knowledge processing. These are independent inquiry, and structuring and restructuring of knowledge. In active learning, the processing of knowledge also requires a problem solving orientation, a critical approach and an evaluation of knowledge. Individual learning strategies the ultimate goal of knowledge processing is that the learner can elaborate on applications of knowledge and s/he may also produce new knowledge using cognitive processes. According to the most recent learning theories, quality of learning also depends on learners' abilities to steer their own learning orientation, to develop inquiring skills and to learn to reflect on and control their own learning processes.

Co-operative learning In the construction of knowledge, social elements have emerged as very important. How we learn and comprehend knowledge depends on our beliefs, attitudes, and values and our self-concept as a learner. The sociohistoric tradition sees a human mind as being distinctive from the minds of all other species in its capability for developing language, tools and a system of education. Knowledge is seen as the creation of a social group, as it engages in its daily interaction and praxis, and both adapts to and transforms the environment around it (Vygotsky, 1978; Cole, 1991).

Constructive learning has been heavily influenced by the work of Vygotsky (1962). Educational psychologists, anthropologists, and sociolinguists have built on his writings to complement the Piagetian orientation and to explore more comprehensively the various social and linguistic contexts within which the child develops (Paour 1990). For Piaget, developmental change and learning are nearly synonymous, as they are both precoded, genetic, and obedient to an external structure of graduated epistemological levels.

New teaching methods, which consisted of more independent learning, more collaborative arrangements, more open tasks and projects, enabled pupils to collaborate with each other, but very often a teacher was also a partner in a learning team. A teacher's position was no longer in front of the classroom, nor in the centre of the classroom, but s/he was a circulating expert, learning together with students and trying to give as much space as possible to his/her students. To promote active learning, the teacher should be a tutor. In addition to the teacher, other partners (e.g. peers, parents, employers) in networks and co-operative projects should have a tutoring and supporting role. These scenarios of teachers' work create new demands on teacher education.

In reality, active learning is the measurement of the extent to which the learner is challenged to use their mental abilities while learning. The passive learner does the same in less content as passive learning is mainly involved in the initial phases where as active learning enhances the passive learning. "There are various types of learning skills that could structure the focus of process-oriented instruction such as cognitive skills, meta-cognitive skills and affective-motivational skills". (Simon et al, 2000)

Methodology

Given the size of the cohort concerned, I opted for a qualitative approach, gathering data through the 'triangulation' of structured and semi-structured interviews with key informants, lesson observations, and an analysis of existing Questionnaires, completed by pupils and teachers. I carried out interviews with staff and students at my placement school: the Urdu teacher, who had allowed me to observe her lessons; my curriculum mentor, overseeing the process; the professional mentor responsible for implementation, and most importantly ten of the fifteen students. My notes from these interviews are contained in the Appendix.

The staff interviews were semi-structured, in order to draw out responses to particular questions, while leaving open the possibility of exploring issues raised by my informants. My questions focused on active learning in the education of teachers themselves.

The interview was a fairly open discussion, but it contained the following themes:

How do you try, in your teaching, to get students to become active learners or inquirers?

(What methods do you use? How do you use modern technology , e.g. media, Internet

What is active learning or active studying at its best, in general/with your own pupils. (What does it demand of teacher, what does it demand of pupils?

How much of your pupils' learning is as you just described it? Among your pupils?

What is your opinion about what are the greatest obstacles to active learning and self regulated studying at schools/in your own teaching?

Do you feel that school gave you a good enough readiness for applying active learning methods?

The pupils interviews were more structured, because of the limited time available for discussion. I selected informants following lesson observations, and discussion with their teachers. I decided that the two I interviewed offered if not a 'cross-section', then complementary viewpoints: two girls at the same time; one rather reserved and one extremely lively; both able to express interesting perspectives. In the event, I found their responses thoughtful, honest and mature. Given the uniqueness of each pupil, I considered, with Bassey (1981, in Bell 2005:19) that "the relatability of a case study is more important than its generalisability." The themes of the interviews were:

How often do you use ICT?

How often do you work in pairs and help each other?

What kinds of methods are used in your lesson?

How much support they are getting from their teachers?

Do you like helping each other during the lesson?

Results:

Active learning from the viewpoint of the Teachers.

The interviews of three teachers and six pupils shown several factors, which affect whether active learning is implemented in schools or not. The teachers described what active learning methods demand of them. Active learning methods require much more work and are much harder on a teacher than traditional teaching. All interviewees emphasised that much more preparation is needed than for traditional teaching: more planning and more preparation of learning resources. The real problem may be that the available learning materials (also multi-media materials) are not good enough and teachers have to produce materials on their own. Teachers seem to be in a very challenging situation. On the one hand, they would like to apply active learning methods; on the other hand, they feel that they do not have enough potency for all the new tasks. They said that active learning methods are challenging and rewarding, but they are worried about whether they have the time and energy to apply them.

It takes a long time before children learn to use active learning strategies. It requires a lot of patience on the part of the teacher: ''you do not have silence in classrooms''. And it is hard work for pupils. The teacher must have the skills of organising and differentiating, as well as time for tutoring. Very often teachers deal with role conflicts in active learning. There are so many changing and contradictory expectations of the role of teachers and pupils among pupils, teachers, and parents. When teachers use active learning methods, they have to clarify objectives and goals to themselves, and they must accept a long continuous learning process of met cognitive strategies, which is necessary in active learning. The teachers were very committed to apply active learning methods, but at the same time, they were very unsure about the future. There seemed to be incredibly many obstacles to active learning methods and additional work. The most important obstacles are presented in Tables (see Appendix) Six main categories could be found in an analysis of the interviews: (1) Curriculum and lack of time, (2) Size of student groups, (3) Conditions and resources, (4) Other teachers, (5) pupils and (6) Parents. All six were mentioned by both teachers and pupils.

I drew up a questionnaire: thirteen pupils and three Urdu teachers filled the questionnaire, giving feedback on the active learning in their Urdu lessons in general. I made my own synthesis of responses relevant to this inquiry, which can be found in the Appendix.

Finally, I carried out two lesson observations attending at my placement school a Key stage 3 Urdu class. I was interested in possible differences in teaching techniques, content, style, etc. Between these lessons and in relation to others I observed at the school and in understanding how pupils took on the learning system during the Urdu lesson. I recorded my impressions of the form, content and atmosphere of the lessons, with timings, activities, and classroom talk as well as the use of resources and form. Following each lesson , I spoke briefly with the teacher/subject mentors in order to try to gauge how representative these sessions were, and heard their perspectives on the students' development.

Ethical considerations

For the interviews with pupils, I sought confirmation from the pupils that they did not mind speaking to me, and from their teachers that they were willing to release them for a short time. I agreed that this would be preferable to taking up lunch-or breaktimes, and ascertained that I had gained all necessary permissions. I conducted the interviews in school library, to avoid the possibility of pupils feeling uncomfortable with a relative stranger in a less public place. I trialled the - potentially sensitive - questions with colleagues (another reason to create a pre-determined interview structure), and assured the pupils that they would not be named. The completed questionnaire to which I had access bore the pupils' names, but I decided that, since they had not originally been completed for the benefit of 'outsiders', I would neither record these nor question pupils about their responses. As with any classroom observation, it was possible that my presence could influence the behaviour and attitudes of pupils and their teachers. I gained the agreement of both beforehand, made my purpose clear, and tried to be unobtrusive, open and non-judgemental, and to participate only when invited.

Limitations to the inquiry

I would have liked to interview all the pupils in the Urdu class, but there was a limit to the time available at school, and - since I already had the group's questionnaire data - I agreed with my subject mentor that just two pupils would be made available for a short time during a lesson. Further possibilities, as part of a larger-scale evaluation, could have included gaining perspectives on the active learning and on pupils' development from the teachers. My professional mentor has provided interesting angles on the school's strategic direction in this area.

Analysis:

Learning to collaborate and learning from collaboration means acquiring skills like dividing tasks between group members, leading a group, learning together, monitoring group progress, defining group goals and group learning goals, negotiating and co-structuring knowledge, coordinating cognitive and social communicative actions and creating a supportive collaborative climate (Simon et al, 2000).

The following section is structured by the thirteen questions that emerged from my research at the school, under which I will consider the KS3 'Active learning in Urdu Lessons'. Throughout this section, I shall make reference to secondary sources on the themes of Active learning and passive learning, in order to compare my findings to experience of these issues elsewhere. The purpose of the research was carried out in resolute fashion and enabled problems to be identified. This piece of research was completed in February 2011 and the questionnaire consisted of thirteen questions.

The open-ended questions were analysed by qualitative categorisation. The two sets of Questionnaire data were analysed separately and categorised. Some categories of teachers and pupils are slightly different, emphasising different aspects of active learning, but most of the categories have the same basic message or core idea. In this research, mainly obstacles to active learning will be presented.

Question 1:

Learner: Do you prefer to follow written instructions on worksheets or in workbooks?

Teacher: Does the learner follow written instructions on worksheets or in workbooks?

Please refer to diagram 1. The results are measured as follows: it is calculated by the following key standards, a (almost never), b (occasionally), c (half the time), d (most of the time), e (almost always). According to this shown data 70% pupils occasionally like to follow the worksheets, 30% half the time. However 65% teachers prefer to give instruction on worksheets, 15% half the time and 20% most of the time. In my school, there has not been much selection in the Urdu lessons, the pupils came into the classroom, textbooks and exercise books were given out, and reading and writing continued until the end of the lesson.

According to these data, it seems that pupils have some experiences of active learning with fairly closed tasks. However, they do not have experiences of planning and building their own learning tasks and environments. Teachers have a more positive view of the conditions than they used to and there are significant statistical differences in almost all items between pupils and teachers.

Question 2:

Learner: Do you prefer to follow oral instructions?

Teacher: Do learners prefer active learning over passive learning.

When learners were asked, the image shows that 50% of pupils prefer to act on oral instructions half the time and 50% most of the time.

If we look at the results from teachers, it shows that 30% of teachers prefer active learning as a substitute of passive learning occasionally, 30% half the time and 40% most of the time.

Question 3:

Learner: Do you prefer lecturing or audio learning style?

Teacher: Do learners prefer lecturing or audio learning style?

Whereas we should engage the class in meaningful and creative activities with the intention of creating an environment conducive to learning, my observations showed that the Urdu lessons were not usually very varied. I was right in my judgement that the majority of learners were looking for variety in their activities. Affective use of ICT and multimedia, I had noticed that

lessons in Urdu classes failed to cater for different learning styles. When this question was put to learners, 30% of them preferred ICT/audio learning style half of the time, 60% most of the time and 10% almost always. When the teachers were asked the same question, 10% preferred to use audio learning occasionally, 20% half the time and 70% preferred lecturing. If we compare the results, pupils preferred activities related to ICT whereas teachers did not.

Question 4:

Learner: Do you prefer visual learning style or demonstration?

Teacher: Do learners prefer visual learning style?

When learning strategically, pupils should have freedom of choice related to the learning strategy such as what kinds of learning approach to take and when and where learning will take place. As described by the Simon et al (1995), in the initial stages of any learning the simpler forms of independence should occupy more time than the more complex ones with a gradual increase of time for more complex forms.

According to the results shown in given chart, that 80% pupils prefer visual learning style and 85% teachers prefer demonstration.

Question 5:

Learner: Do you prefer a kinaesthetic form the learning?

Teacher: Do learners prefer a kinaesthetic form of learning?

My approach to learning styles (such as visual, auditory or kinaesthetic) and multiple intelligences is based on a concern to avoid the labelling and categorisation of learners. While every person may have a unique individual combination of intelligences, he/she also possesses potential intelligences that must be practised and developed. In any case, such concepts as multiple intelligence

are themselves culturally bound, as Alexander (2005b:14) implies when he asks:

"Which came first, a human mind which has linguistic, mathematical, and musical intelligences, or a curriculum which contains the language, mathematics, and music that such intelligences have created?"

When we see the results, 80% of pupils prefer kinaesthetic learning most of the time and according to 85% of teachers, most of the time their learners prefer kinaesthetic learning in lessons.

Question 6:

Learners: Do you learn more when working on your own?

Teachers: Do learners work on their own?

I will evaluate question 6, 7 and 8 together, I will proceed according to the principle that unique individuals, the infinite complexity of human interrelationships, and the particularity of dynamic situation cannot be fully captured by generalised understandings or a single theory of learning, but that insights from many quarters can help understand classroom practice. Classroom observation, however, is necessarily defined by a particular purpose (Wragg 1994), and my student teacher's lens will no doubt emphasize certain aspects of learning to the possible exclusion of others.

According to the qualitative data, learning as an active learning process has a clear connection with pupils and teachers' professional development. Learning which demands active reflection and high responsibility encourages pupils to overcome their own limits. It is seen as very rewarding to pupils. Active learning in classroom is not only a method; it is a concept of the teaching profession. As a Student teacher, I see that becoming a teacher is a continuous, active learning process, which should be continued in my career. The qualitative data have revealed the important categories. They describe the meaning of active learning in teacher teaching. The peer review process, one-to-one support and group work involves building a foundation in the classroom that supports collaborative evaluation and helps pupils relate to and practice real-life situations. In order for peer evaluation to be effective, staff need to prepare and explain to pupils the who, what, when, how, and why of the collaborative experience so students feel capable of evaluating one another effectively and fairly.

According to the results of question 6, 7, 8, we can see that 85% students prefer to work in groups and to learn by helping each other. As compared to teachers, they prefer group and peer learning occasionally.

Question 7:

Learner: Do you like to receive one-to-one support from the teacher?

Teacher: Do you like to give one-to-one support?

Question 8:

Learner: Do you like helping each other?

Teacher: Do you encourage learners to help each other?

Question 9:

Learner: Do you prefer to learn one application or topic at a time?

Teacher: Do you like learners to learn one application or topic at a time?

80% of pupils prefer to learn one application of the time and 20% prefer almost always, on the teachers side, 5% half the time, 5% most of the time and 90% almost always prefer to finish one topic at the time.

This indicates that many Urdu teachers are not highly motivated to give attention to active learning as they do not see the benefits of it within the subject matter and argue that these activities take up too much valuable time. Other teachers want to concentrate all their attention on the instruction of content knowledge as otherwise; it will affect their results or grades. Also not all the teachers possess sufficient knowledge and skills to foster active learning and to supervise their pupils in active self-directed learning. Most Urdu teachers would need to develop forms of instruction, which are fundamentally different from those they are currently using and familiar with.

Question 10:

Learner: Do you prefer to make mistakes and learn from them?

Teacher: Do you encourage learners to make mistakes and learn from them?

Results shows that 10% of pupils almost never learn from their mistakes, 30% of pupils occasionally 50% half the time and 10% most of the time try not to repeat their mistakes.

85% teachers half of the time encourage their pupils not to fear to make mistakes and hence to learn from them.

Learning from their own mistakes is a procedure, in which the learners use opportunities to decide about aspects of the learning process or the extent to which they are challenged to use their mental abilities while learning.

Question 11:

Learner: Do you prefer activities that enable you to work in pairs?

Teacher: Do you design activities that enable learners to work in pairs?

The group peer review active learning strategy is a positive experience for both the pupils and teachers. This strategy provided pupils with an opportunity to use higher level thinking skills, to work collaboratively, and to evaluate scholarly work done by their peers. They had the opportunity to see how other pupils developed their own critiques; they learned from their mistakes and they also benefited from their accomplishments. As a result, pupils could use what they learned through the group peer review activity to revise and develop further.

80% of pupils prefer group learning, and 40% Urdu teachers encourage their pupils to work in groups most of the time.

Question 12:

Learner: Do you prefer to start at the beginning, even if you have some previous knowledge?

Teacher: Do you like learners to start at the beginning; even they have some previous knowledge?

80% of learners prefer to start from the beginning half of the time, but teachers usually do not wish to check the prior knowledge of their pupils.

Question 13:

Learner: Do you prefer to talk to each other about what you are doing?

Teacher: Do you encourage learners to talk to each other about what they are doing?

Teachers must assess their pupils during the lesson to check their learning and persuade them to talk about the activities and learning that happens in the class. Results indicate that 80% of pupils prefer to talk to each other about what they are doing most of the time, and only 60% of teachers encourage their learners to talk to each other about what they are doing.

Active learning is an approach that allows pupils to take responsibility for their own learning thereby enabling teachers to handle more than one grade in a class. It uses a variety of methods to generate different contexts in which pupils interact with subject matter. The common goal is the provision of opportunities for learners to integrate new information, concepts or skills into their own mental schema through rephrasing, rehearsing and practice. Activities can include collaborative group work, investigation with materials inside or outside the classroom, and peer teaching, as well as self-guided teaching, lecturing and individual seatwork. To be actively involved, pupils must engage in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, production and evaluation.

Active learning has its roots in three bodies of education literature. The first is the constructivist approach to the attainment of knowledge, which argues that learning is a procedure of knowledge construction through social interaction that builds on a learner's previous experience. The second is cooperative learning, which supports cooperative small group problem solving as a means to improve student learning, increases student motivation, and serves as a tool to help manage large numbers of pupils. The third is sociolinguistic research, which suggests that pupils should use discussion strategies in classroom settings to promote and understand verbal interaction with teachers and other pupils.

Conclusion:

The findings outlined in the previous section are in keeping with the research of Cullen et al, who identify a wide range of alleged positive outcomes from Active learning. However, they argue that success should not be taken for granted: These positive outcomes for the young people were only achieved through a substantial degree not only of planning but also of support (Cullen et al 2000:117). Once young learners leave the supportive environment, they may 'regress rapidly'; The message here is that active learning must continue to be 'work in progress' in Urdu classes in order to perpetuate its undoubted benefits.

When given the choice between active and passive learning, I find that active learning best provides me, as a student teacher, with the prospect to succeed in my studies. By definition, active learning provides students with the ability to actively participate in the learning process, rather than passively absorb information. I believe that when pupils participate only in passive learning, environments which are dominated by lectures and memorization of facts and figures, it takes a longer amount of time to fully grasp and understand new strategies, because passive learning tends to lead to learning by rote. In an active learning setting, where pupils are encouraged to participate in discussion groups, studies, experiments and other interactive opportunities, because the mind is more stimulated by interaction rather than one-way lectures.

Hands-on participation seems to be the single easiest way to dive into new subject matters. When pupils are empowered to participate, learning curves restrained. Finally, passive learning, or learning by rote as I mentioned above, tends to lead to short-term information retention. Memorization, as conflicting to continued studies, accesses the part of the brain that only retains information shortly. So when I have the opportunity to participate in active learning, I find that I am better able to retain the knowledge that I have gained Active learning may not be appropriate for every situation. There are certain strategies that are better facilitated in a passive learning environment. However, when given a choice, I find that I am best served by active learning environments that provide interactive and hands-on opportunities.

Professional development:

The experience of this inquiry - my first encounter with this area of secondary schooling - has provided me with several insights that will help inform my professional development. I have become interested in the potential of active learning in Urdu classes, for meeting the educational needs of young learners. In the longer term, I would like to become involved in the process of extending such opportunities to pupils, and of working with learners.

The process of carrying out interviews at school has focused my attention on the ethical considerations addressed, and the need for sensitivity. I hope I have trodden lightly in the school where I was privileged to spend my first placement.

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