Active learning models and their importance in student learning

Where other disciplines have excelled in the area of education research, accounting and other business fields have fallen short. Education research in the field of accounting remains, somewhat, in the infancy stage. Even though accounting research has been conducted for many years, this research has never gained enough prestige to allow the researchers of business education to gain tenure track positions at major universities. Therefore, this research is typically conducted by senior tenured faculty members or clinical level faculty.

Accounting is a very tactical discipline: students learning by doing and experiencing accounting tasks first-hand. Students do not learn accounting process by watching someone else complete the tasks.

Active learning can be defined as “invent[ing] concepts, models, and schemes to make sense of experience[s], and . . . continually test[ing] and modify[ing] these constructions in the light of new experience[s]” (Schwandt, 2007, p. 38). Active learning is present in a classroom when students are allowed to take part in the education process and in developing their own learning. In other words, the student is allowed to actively participate as opposed to passively listening to a lecture or watching someone else complete an exercise or problem.

“In Finland, the nation with the highest literacy scores internationally, recent teacher preparation has focused on teaching for higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving and critical thinking” (Erickson, 2010, p. 171). To instill these qualities in students, Instructors should utilize activities and small group problem solving sessions within the class period, giving students a first-hand attempt at applying their gained knowledge. Barron and Darling-Hammond (2008) believe that “in all problem-based approaches, students take an active role in knowledge construction” (p. 44).

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