It was Parent Teacher Conference night during the first year that we switched all of our AP Stats lessons from traditional notes to ALL IN on EFFL, and parents had A LOT of questions about what we were doing. To be honest, they were the busiest conferences I ever had! Parents were concerned about this "new style" because their students had been coming home talking about how they wished I would just give them the notes. "It would be so much easier if they would just tell us what we need to know." One parent even said, "My child learns better when you spoon feed her."
No, they don't learn better, they memorize better.
What I would explain to parents was the value that came with the struggle. Students develop a stronger, more long-lasting understanding when they discover the concepts on their own. What I did realize from this experience was the importance of being transparent about this process with students. It's so important that students understand that they are supposed to struggle! And struggling does not mean that they are failing, it means that they are growing.
This year we spent a half a class period talking about this with our students. An article came out in the Harvard Gazette this fall detailing a study that shows the benefits of active learning vs. passive learning. What was surprising in the findings was that students in the study who were in a passive learning setting actually thought they learned more than the students in the active learning setting. Yet the students in the active learning setting outperformed the students in the passive learning setting.
We have our students read this article and discuss the importance of the struggling. We'd encourage you to take the time to share it with your students also. We have found that being transparent with our students about why we teach the way we do has helped us the most with getting them to buy in to the process.
Download the files.