Active Learning

“Active Learning is comparable to lectures for achieving content mastery but superior for developing thinking and application skills” Bonwell & Eison (1991)

Active Learning is a well tested educational technique that involves a group of pre-educated individuals, all with similar learning objectives, getting together in a relaxed, informal environment and in simple terms – ‘learning from each other’ (LFEO). With the help of a trained facilitator who, usually, but not necessarily, shares the same interests as the group, the members agree on their various learning objectives and seek volunteers within the group to lead in their particular fields of interest. The volunteers, in advance of the course, have time to research their subject and prepare a relevant literature review. This review provides a ‘safety net’ for the session – in other words to safeguard against ‘talking rubbish!’. The topic is discussed; knowledge and experience is shared and reflected upon, debated and integrated into existing knowledge from the literature review. The ‘refined knowledge’ is harvested by the facilitator using the open-question based ‘actif capture’ system and finally converted into a plan of ‘action‘ that can be taken home and implemented in practice – we call these Optimised Operational Procedures (‘OOPs’!). This approach strives to ensure that the all important end result that is ‘action’ is indeed achieved.

The Active Learning Model


Educationalists Bonwell and Eison (1991) demonstrated that Active Learning  is “comparable to lectures for achieving content mastery but superior for developing thinking and application skills”. The educational model is less successful in the absence of previous education, for example children do not benefit quite so much but adult professionals do.

How do you become part of an Active Learning Group?

Three ways:

1. Form your own group from friends and colleagues, or,

2. Join a group, or,

3. Allow us to suggest a group for you.

As for the facilitators; we have a panel of trained individuals covering most areas of practice and management. We can help match the right facilitator to the group. You may wish to nominate your own facilitator but they may need some coaching and orientation – that person may be you!

Is there no role for lecturers or specialists?

One of the features of Active Learning is the absence of a single “lecturer”. This makes for a more inclusive and interactive learning experience and also keeps the costs down leaving more spend for personal development. Established lecturers or specialists do fit in well but are expected to lead only in their chosen areas. If this still doesn’t fit the bill for your requirements and you really do want to be classically “taught” then we can still help – we’ll provide the environment, the personal development  and the adventurous training and when no ones looking we’ll try and ‘actif-ate’ your lecturer!

Where does this leave existing CPD Providers?

There are several excellent CPD providers already offering a great service – can we work together? Yes! If you are a provider or you want to use the services of a particular provider then CPD Actif can simply host the course. We already work very closely with VetSkills – providers of a full array of veterinary CPD.

What does Active Learning amount to in terms of my CPD record?

Depending on your common group objectives you will register up to 8 hours a day and you will, should you wish, receive a separate certificate for time spent planning and delivering CPD versus time spent receiving. Just how much time you spend on the CPD is up to the group – another feature of active learning – it’s your group, its up to you!