Taking Control of your Education Experience

Being an active student means being interested in actively pursuing learning, as opposed to passively absorbing the information being taught at you. It doesn’t only apply to formal education. It can be as simple as remembering the facts from a book you just read and applying them to other information. When going over material you are learning, whether on your own or in class, be sure you are connecting the dots. Don’t just memorize facts or answer the homework questions. Tell yourself the story. Every lesson has a narrative – follow it, from beginning to end.

Things you can do to become an active student include:

1) Ask questions – no matter how uncomfortable you are, raise your hand and ask the stupid question that’s floating around in your mind. Pay attention to the answer. Write it down even. Ask a follow up if you don’t understand the answer. If you truly cannot do it in front of people then talk to the teacher after class.

2) Read, read, read – don’t just read the assigned readings, reread your notes, read back through your written answers, write out the basic facts from your reading and reread through those. This will all help at test time and also increases long-term retention. Brainstorm and give yourself quizzes to make sure you connected the dots.

3) Do your homework – sounds simple enough but an active student also relates what they just learned with what they already know and what they want to know. This includes going over old tests to learn from your mistakes.

4) Set goals – decide where you want your education to go and pursue it.

5) Take part in study groups – sharing information among other students can point out information that you missed and/or reinforce what you already learned.

6) Participate in classroom activities – teachers use activities to reinforce the lesson. If you aren’t taking part you may be missing out on an important learning experience. Group projects may also benefit your grade.

Most individuals who pursue active learning naturally have the outgoing personality type. To switch from being a passive student may take you out of your comfort zone. But taking an active role in your education puts you in control of where it is headed, which is ultimately more comfortable. According to the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan, active learners tend to learn critical thinking and decision making, which benefit them throughout life.