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Active Learning

At APU, we know that active learning begins with you

Ah, the high school field trip – an escape from crowded hallways, inaudible PA messages and a bell schedule that after four years can be a tad annoying.

If a class trip or poster presentation is your idea of active learning, let Early Honors at Alaska Pacific University reintroduce you to ways that experience really can be the best teacher.

From your earliest days as an Early Honors student enrolled in your Critical Thinking course, you’ll recognize ways that actively taking part in learning can teach you to analyze, reflect on, and communicate what you know.

We call it active learning – a three-way technique that focuses your thinking to help you master college-level material.

Active learning helps you understand how you think

You joined the Early Honors program because you want to understand information, not merely uncover and recite it. At APU, active learning turns your curiosity into a teaching strategy by prompting you to notice how your mind processes knowledge.

And when it comes to making thinking visible, nothing we’ve found works quite as well as thinking in writing. Let’s say the topic in your ecology class is whether eating locally grown food is better for the environment. You could write an essay that summarizes a few key facts and then explains why you side with one stand or the other. You’d be done. But you wouldn’t have done much thinking.

Active learning interrupts this approach. It starts by asking you to sort out – in writing – what you know about a topic and what you think about it. Then active learning challenges you to analyze facts – in writing – to explore novel connections that others might have missed. Active learning teaches you to harness your curiosity to form focused research questions, based on what you want to know.

Active learning helps you show what you know

Project-based learning in APU’s Early Honors program offers lots of practice in real-world skills that you’ll use throughout college and in life. You’ll apply active learning strategies so that your projects showcase your depth of understanding and ability to communicate your knowledge clearly to others.

Active learning projects are evidence of your ability to manage ideas and time – often in collaboration with peers and your instructors. Early Honors projects are designed to give you practice in applying creative approaches to real-world problems.

For instance, a geology course could find you on Matanuska glacier, working alongside classmates and professors to document and analyze ice forms. Robotics projects in your physics class may challenge you to use technology to add to human well-being.

In each case, the goal is to generate ideas and make them come to life for resume-worthy projects that show what you know – as well as demonstrating your potential to keep learning.

Active learning helps keep your goals in focus

Early Honors students know that you have to set goals before you can savor success that comes from achieving them. Active learning in your Early Honors program reinforces future-oriented awareness so that the realistic goals you set today advance your informed hopes for tomorrow.

Early Honors helps keep your goals in focus by encouraging you to work closely with faculty mentors attuned to your strengths, dreams and challenges. Mentors double as academic advisers who’ll challenge you to come up with your own answers to questions like, “What do you want from college? from your career? from life?”

Active learning helps you gain practical insight into time and effort required for informed choices in college and beyond.