Active Learning

Hiroshima University fosters individuals who can take on the role of creating knowledge for the next generation by providing them with an opportunity to learn emerging academic fields through research. Any current knowledge will gradually become obsolete with time. It is therefore important to cultivate individuals who willingly keep learning after graduating from school or completing courses and act on their own initiative. Active learning is one of the methods to foster such individuals.

According to the glossary of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, active learning is “a collective term for teaching and learning methods which incorporate active participation of students in a study process, rather than the method of education in a form of lecture given unilaterally by a teacher.” More specifically, active learning includes discovery learning, problem solving learning, experiential learning, and investigative learning. Group discussions, collaborative learning, debate, and group workshops are also effective methods of active learning. The purpose of active learning is to foster individuals as explained above, and is a form of coursework designed to cultivate individuals who can actively learn. Hiroshima University plans to increase the number of courses that use active learning in the next ten years.

Active-learning-type lectures that use a tablet, active-learning-type courses such as a problem based learning (PBL) course, and debate courses in Japanese and English have already been offered by all faculty. Furthermore, we are promoting the introduction of the flipped classroom, which “flips” the traditional teaching method of "give a lecture in a classroom and give exercises as homework" to "give a lecture as homework and do exercise in a classroom."

What is a “flipped classroom”?

A flipped classroom is a type of class which “flips” the traditional teaching method of "give a lecture in a classroom and give exercises as homework" to "give a lecture as homework and do exercises in a classroom."

Example of a flipped classroom at Hiroshima University

[1]Presentation of text books or distribution of materials
Study a 20~40 minutes lecture video using the online study support system “Bb9” operated by the University in line with text books and materials.
For Bb9, click here →
[3] Collaborative learning in the classroom
The faculty member rarely gives a lecture in the classroom. Students form groups to work together in the classroom. Through collaborative learning, students share the points they did not understand, ask questions to the faculty member, and the points they did not understand are further explained by the faculty member.
[4]Confirmation test
A test is given to confirm what students have learned through the lecture video. Students check answers within their groups. The answers are presented by the faculty member to all of the students at the end.
[5]Supplementary lecture
Upon checking the test results and the level of the students’ understanding, a supplementary lecture is given for the content the students did not understand well or content which was not covered sufficiently by the video lecture.
[6]Application test
As a training opportunity to use knowledge as wisdom, an applied question, which has no single correct answer, is given to the students and students are to form an opinion as a group through group collaborative learning using the knowledge they acquired, and each group presents its opinion. Students do a third-party evaluation using a clicker to determine which group’s opinion is best.  ↓
All students may ask questions using the message board on Bb9 and the questions and answers are shared by all.

A “Flipped classroom” experience

It was a new form of coursework and fun! A good point is that we can see the video on the Internet so that we can review it as many times as we want.
I could expand my understanding, by learning from other students taking the same course as to the part I thought I understood but in fact I did not understand, and by teaching other students.
It was fun. As we can learn through actively thinking for ourselves, things soak into our head.
When we discuss about the subject with others and think about it, instead of just listening to a lecture in the classroom, what we learned tends to stick out in our minds. It is also good that we can always immediately ask questions.
By solving applied questions, I think that I acquired the habit of thinking about what I can do using the knowledge I gained, rather than just gaining the knowledge.