Perspective on learning with ActiveScience ™
The guiding principle in the development of PROED programs is well represented by its name: ActiveScience ™ . This reflects the intentionality of the human mind, always active and in search, responding enthusiastically to positive learning experiences.
All ActiveScience ™ productions, programs and exhibitions, based on this type of learning dynamics, contemplate, on one hand, the consideration of a diversity of factors involved in this process and on the other, and perhaps most importantly, the creation of friendly environments promoting communication.
Learning in evolution
In the last decades, the exponential growth of technology has produced fundamental changes in our personal life and in our social and cultural environments. Today it is necessary for the population in its entirety to access scientific and technological literacy
Literacy involves the delivery of information together with critical and reflective thinking about it, allowing problems to be solved creatively and without fear. Literacy involves learning to “read human codes,” to be able to work together and learn from others. In short, becoming increasing capable to adapt to changes in a growing and evolutionary way.
Changes in learning methods
In all cultures there have always been those who explain things to others. With the creation of the first learning centers, universities and later on in schools, role of the teacher was who lectured to students who passively took notes was also created and codified. This has been traditionally accepted as the way to transfer information from one group to another over the last few thousand years. This accepted teaching method has undergone very few changes since the time of Plato and Aristotle, while our social fabric and people’s daily lives have been transformed over and over again by the enormous scientific, technological, cultural and social changes which are increasing exponentially. In the last 20 years it has been increasing demonstrated that the effective function of conferences or teacher lectures are surprisingly insufficient to expand knowledge and effective learning.
Thanks to increased research in cognitive science, it has become clear that: (1) we have a limited capacity of short term memory and that is why it is necessary to reduce the information burden. Ignoring this only confuses students, (2) verbally delivered information is incorporated in a lesser degree than information transmitted through images, (3) engaging students through interactive experiences linked to concepts and ideas, is more effective for the understanding, retention and integration of information, (4) concepts linked to phenomena coming from our environment and daily life increase relational and reflective thinking.
It is clear that learning takes place when a person is actively, personally connected to information. The more information is “acted upon”, meditated, applied, recreated, transformed and re-signified, the more it can be used.
PROED has always been interested in the constant improvement of its programs, adapting them to different educational realities throughout Chile. We have a great amount of experience and accumulated information, thanks to our work in elementary and high school education; with private, municipal or subsidized education; in rural and urban environments, with one or more teachers, with a diverse range of interests and capacities, considering the constant changes in education policies and programs. Thanks to ActiveScience’s™ results and experience, added to research on other countries’ learning experiences, we have defined a core, as well as certain favorable conditions of the environments involved.
Conditions about environments
When the general environment of the school is friendly and dynamic new learning methods are very likely to be welcomed. If the participating teachers have previously shown interest in science and are “doing more than the minimum” with their classes, then there is a favorable attitude to professional development and change. When the school principal values and supports teachers’ initiatives, the entire educational community benefits from these positive relationships.
Core learning: previous diagnosis, concept and interactive experience, reflection, interchange and evaluation.
Through a dynamic that includes: reading and previous study by the students of a text about the concepts involved; a simple pretest and discussion to see prior knowledge and erroneous beliefs; research and experimentation in classroom/laboratory with use of kits and didactic resources; teamwork; conclusions, reflections and subsequent evaluations; and finally the extension of concepts beyond the classroom.