Higher Education (HE) institutions, as centers of creation and dissemination of knowledge, are called to respond to contemporary challenges. In the 21st century knowledge society, which is increasingly globalized and dominated by an expansion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), new skills are cultivated. Students learn to approach knowledge in a more collaborative, creative and innovative way. To prepare students for the international job market, HE institutions should increasingly aim at developing students’ practical and transferable skills such as digital competency, skills for effective communication, problem solving, teamwork and entrepreneurship. In parallel, it is important that they cultivate a sense of social responsibility and cultural awareness, as well as an ability to address ethical dilemmas. As a response to contemporary challenges and needs, new trends emerge in higher education. Course redesigns, more integrated and interdisciplinary curricula, growing numbers of online/blended courses and programs, more student-driven personalized learning, experimentation with new teaching and learning spaces, emphasis on active learning, introduction of virtual reality are some examples of such trends.
Academics, students and HE administration play an important role in this changing learning environment. This study focuses on instructors’ perceptions and practices of active learning in higher education. It addresses the following main questions: How do instructors practice active learning? How do instructors’ active learning practices get affected by their perception of effective pedagogy, knowledge of active learning and their instructional goals? The study is based on the results of a survey addressed to academics from different disciplines and different countries. Aspects examined are: teaching pedagogy and goals, the role of the instructor, active learning methods used in different disciplines, collaborative learning, the importance of ICTs, assessment, and evaluation of active learning methods used. The results of this exploratory study will be used to identify factors that lead to effective active learning strategies and thus prepare academics for change.
keywords: active learning, teaching pedagogy, teaching goals, role of the instructor, collaborative learning, assessment, icts, higher education.