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The objective of this session is to introduce active learning. Active learning is an innovative education methodology for the workplace. It is used to help people remove their fear, resentment, and resistance to change by immersing them in the change process itself. Active learning is the "vehicle" for workers to understand precisely how new knowledge applies to them and their jobs. Thus, they can accept change as the new reality. In order to understand how active learning makes education more effective, we first need to look at why existing education techniques are ineffective at accomplishing change.

In excess of $44 billion was spent on education in the workplace in 1991. A subsequent study estimated that less than 3% of that investment resulted in productivity that generated improvements.

Figure 1.

How We Learn Is Important t

Last year American businesses spent in excess of $40 billion on education for the workplace.


15% retained by participants

15% of that applied to make improvements

3% return on investment


Traditional education delivery methods

"I lecture, you take notes!"

Why does this occur? A major reason for this inadequate return on investment and lack of initiative is due to the predominant use of traditional lecture-type teaching meth­odology in manufacturing workplace education. Based on research studies in learning psychology, this method is the least effective in helping students both recall and then apply new information. When listening is the predominant means of acquiring instruction, human beings, by nature, tend to become distracted and disinterested. In addition, the lack of opportunity to apply and practice new skills— specially with the expectation for change—usually results in a return to the status quo.

As opposed to that passive role for students in the learning process, active learning creates an interactive relationship between the instructor and the students. The techniques of this innovative learning methodology, such as role playing, consensus building, simulation, brainstorming, creative thinking, cooperative learning, and critical analy­sis, recognize that adults must be immersed in their own education process to learn effectively.

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Active learning is a proven approach to effective education which:

Creates an interactive relationship between students and instructor, Coaches people to make immediate application, Fosters greater retention through practice,

nd results in:

Meaningful improvements implemented more quickly, Change that enhances the bottom line, An increased return on the investment in education.

Students should also be coached in order to quickly apply new knowledge to their work environments to make im­provements. Active learning results in an increased ability by the students to understand, retain, and apply the subject matter to manufacturing refinements. In an aver­age retention rate study of different teaching methodolo­gies conducted by the National Training Laboratory, the teaching delivery technique chosen by the instructor vastly affects the recall of information. Based on educational theories and empirically tested and verified studies like this one, the author concludes that active learning is superior to other teaching approaches.

This presentation will identify, describe, and demonstrate four basic models of active learning which will insure a significant return on the investment in manufacturing education. The techniques discussed will be creative thinking, brainstorming, role playing, and cooperative learning. This will be a highly interactive learning experi­ence. It is difficult to "just talk" about active learning. These teaching approaches will be presented in relation­ship to developing a productive work team, and applied to manufacturing applications.

To be Continued


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