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Most Effective Learning Style Feels the Worst

Learning is hard work, but it turns out that sometimes the most effective type of learning (for most people) might actually feel less effective and less enjoyable than you think.

It turns out that for many students, active learning is a more effective learning technique than the usual passive learning technique.

Active learning (or active instruction) involves coaching students through solving difficult problems. In contrast, passive learning involves lecturing to students about how to solve a specific type of problem.

Interestingly, though, through most self-reported measures, active learning feels less satisfying than passive learning.

In fact, not only did students enjoy the active learning class less, they felt like they learned less and they felt like the teacher of the active course was less effective at teaching.

However, the test results don’t lie. In classes that were split between active and passive learning, the passive learning group consistently felt better but performed worse on a test given immediately after the class.

Whether you’re learning an instrument or a skill, spending the time and energy to pursue active learning opportunities can make your learning time far more effective than simply reading a book or watching a video.

You can read a lot more about this study on the National Academy of Sciences web site.