Evolving from Passive to Active Learning

April 05, 2019

Walk into any two classrooms teaching the same subject, and you will notice, to varying degrees, a difference in how much work the teacher is doing versus how much work the students are doing. Whether we teach science, writing, or entrepreneurship, studies show that active learner engagement is essential. Especially in today’s age where students absorb fast-paced, stimulating content in such small snippets, if you are still employing the sage-on-a-stage method of teaching, you’re probably not getting through to over half of the students. But as creatures of habit, a shift in methods that provides opportunities for active learning rather than passive learning can feel monumental. Breaking it down into smaller steps and moving along a progression can help to ease the transition.

Christen Dunn, Entrepreneurial Educator and podcast guest on Entre Ed Talk, suggests there is a natural progression along the entrepreneurial education spectrum that teachers can follow. The first level of activity creates exposure to entrepreneurship. This might include reading a story to students about Milton Hershey or having students research and report on a famous entrepreneur. The next step would be providing opportunities for students to simulate entrepreneurial activities. These can be cross-curricular and standards-based and do not need to be necessarily connected to the subject of business. For example, students might deliver sales pitches for their favorite books or create advertisements for inventions from the Industrial Revolution. Progression to experiential learning is next and might involve groupwork designing products and perhaps even selling the product in a controlled environment. The final phase, which allows for the most active learning to occur, is when the educator acts as a consultant. The students take charge of their learning, typically through a project-based learning framework that allows them the opportunity to actually launch their own businesses.

Taking baby steps along the progression can get your students to a place where there is ample opportunity for them to truly practice entrepreneurship. But don’t dawdle in the early phases for too long – kids are just itching to jump right into the student-driven world of business ownership! And if you’re looking to catapult to the final stage, learn how TREP$ can help.

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