Active Learning vs Passive Learning: Difference and Comparison

We are continuous learners right from birth to death. We keep on learning this world and learn many things every day in our life.

But when we come across the words teach and learning, it is usual for everyone to go back to our education. And of course, both the terms active and passive learning is related to our education system.

Our education tract contains both these processes. Every process has its importance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Active learning involves students engaging with course material through activities, discussions, or problem-solving, promoting critical thinking and retention.
  2. Passive learning occurs when students receive information without actively participating, such as through lectures or reading.
  3. Active learning leads to better knowledge retention and comprehension than passive learning.

Active Learning vs Passive Learning

The difference between Active Learning and Passive Learning is that Active Learning is student-centered. On the other hand, Passive Learning is teacher-centered. The active learning method is also known as the traditional method of learning. In the Active learning method, students have a major role. On the contrary passive learning have a minor part in the involvement of students. Active learning and Passive learning have their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Active Learning vs Passive Learning

Education Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to education

1 / 10

In which year was the first college in the United States founded?

2 / 10

What word, taken from German, names the traditional first formal year of U.S. schooling?

3 / 10

What is the study of history called?

4 / 10

What is the highest degree that can be earned in a university?

5 / 10

What is the name of the first university established in the world?

6 / 10

The purpose of the evaluation is to make?

7 / 10

What is the skill of speaking in front of an audience called?

8 / 10

Dianne has the above-average mental ability, but she is poorly motivated in class. That is why she has low grades in her academic performance. Is she?

9 / 10

What is the study of government and political systems called?

10 / 10

Which is the first country to have a public education system?

Your score is


Active learning is the learning process that involves the active participation of students in understanding concepts. Conceptual understanding stimulates thinking related to concept material through discussions and relevant activities.

Active learning involves reinforcing the understanding skills of the students. This method of learning contains fewer lectures by teachers and professors.

Passive learning is considered the teacher-centered method. And the participation of the student is little.

Passive learning consists of a teacher giving lectures in the room and students listening to the classes or seminars. The instructor has complete control over the listeners and their activities.

An instructor will be providing the lecture notes and material.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonActive LearningPassive Learning
MeaningActive learning is the learning process where students are involved more and activities are done by students to understand concepts.In this kind of learning method, students acquire knowledge from the instructor without much effort.
Student InteractionHigh interaction of students.Less interaction of students.
Conceptual understanding and retainingVery high.Comparatively less.
Major responsibilityStudents are more responsible in this method of learning.The teacher or the instructor has a major responsibility.

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is a student-friendly learning method. And it is the most liked method of learning.

Where it contains more student involvement in understanding the concepts. The active learning method has off-classroom activities and requires the active participation of students.

With various activities and discussions on the concepts, they can get a clear understanding. Activities include peer discussions, group problem solving, practical labs, games, and many more.

The concept of Active learning makes students think out of the box and put the learned concepts in the real world. This learning method makes the student more divergent in thinking and relates various concepts together.

Connecting different theories increases innovative thoughts and aids in developing new things.

Small group discussions, solving problems, games, role play, debates, seminars, and hands-on labs are some of the activities of the active learning method. Students explaining one another is also a good practice of active learning.

Active learning increases the critical thinking of students in a short time. Students play a vital role in this learning environment.

Students pay more attention to this learning method, as it is quite interesting. Due to various activities, students interact with each other.

Interaction leads to better communication and expressive skills. And active learning may be a bit complex process.

Distraction is a common thing in the active learning process, hence they should be monitored.

What is Passive Learning?

The method of learning in which the instructor has a crucial role is known as passive learning. Passive learning is teacher-centered.

In this learning method students or the listeners are seated in a classroom. And there will be an instructor or teacher explaining the concepts.

In this method, knowledge is shared directly by the teacher. Everything is handed to students by the instructor, like material and notes.

Students get an idea of the concepts without any effort to understand the concepts.

In the passive learning process, it is the responsibility of the instructor to make the concepts clear for the students. As the instructor plays a crucial role in this learning method, students thought process gradually decreases.

And this learning method affects the thinking of students and restricts their thoughts stick to the classroom.

On the contrary, the Passive learning method promotes listening, writing, and describing skills. Instructors will be testing the understanding levels of the concepts by asking questions and conducting assessments.

One of the notable advantages of passive learning is the flexibility to explain many concepts. Students can attain more knowledge in less time, and instructors can explain many concepts.

The instructor will be providing concrete notes and materials. But students may feel passive learning method a bit boring.

Main Differences Between Active Learning and Passive Learning

  1. Active learning is the learning method where students are involved in the learning process. While Passive learning is a method of learning where the instructor or teacher gives lectures.
  2. The active learning method is termed student-centered. On the contrary passive learning is termed the teacher-centered method.
  3. The Active learning method includes the involvement of students. Which aids in understanding concepts clearly and leads to retaining the concepts for a longer time. But passive learning doesn’t have any such activities to understand the concepts clearly.
  4. Students are more interested in active learning because it contains activities, discussions, and group debates. While passive learning doesn’t consist of such activities.
  5. As active learning is based majorly on students’ interaction, it is the major responsibility of students to understand the concepts. On the contrary passive learning is a kind where the lecturer plays a major role in explaining the concepts.
Difference Between Active Learning and Passive Learning

Last Updated : 18 July, 2023

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