Becoming an Active rather than a Passive Student

Active students have a huge advantage over passive students. Active students are out in the lead because the active learner determines how he or she learns best, and that knowledge transfers to greater success in any field of endeavor.

Active learners acknowledge their need to understand the material being presented and will do what they need to do to master the learning objectives. Passive learners will only do what they are assigned to do and are, therefore, limited in their mastery of the subject.

Some years ago the terms “proactive” and “reactive” were in use as ways to describe responses to situations. These terms apply here, as the active learner is proactive and the passive learner is reactive. Proactive learners are ready to receive the information imparted by the teacher or by the assigned readings. They are in position to take in the information and they take steps to maximize their efforts. On the other hand, passive learners simply react only if necessary to what the teacher is presenting.

The active learner acknowledges that he or she will need to learn the vocabulary even if it is not assigned, knowing that it is critical to the understanding of the concepts. This active learner will be aware of the instructional objectives at the start of a topic or unit and will refer back to them to see if he or she mastered them.

The active learner makes predictions, infers knowledge from readings and discussions and asks meaningful questions in order to understand concepts, not just facts.

The passive learner is only receiving the information, but may not fully learn all that is available because he or she is only receiving and not generating knowledge.

Just as in any effective communication, the message must travel in a two-way pattern. Just like a baseball player in the outfield, the active player is in position ready to catch the ball and is prepared to do whatever it takes to make the catch. The passive player stays in position, expecting the ball to come to him. This is the major difference in comparing the active learner and the passive learner as well.

An important advantage of being an active student is that being fully engaged with learning is interesting and fun. Being an active learner is an energizing experience, whereas being a passive learner is just plain work.