Advantages and Disadvantages of Passive Learning

In order to study the advantages and disadvantages of passive learning we first need to look at what passive learning is.

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What is Passive Learning

Passive learning is a learning method where the learners receive information from the instructor without providing feedback.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Passive Learning

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

This method of learning is teacher-centered, in contrast to active learning, which is student-centered.

The biggest example of passive learning is a church sermon, where the preacher preaches the sermon without the listeners providing any contribution to the sermon. Passive learners generally absorb information and knowledge without contributing to the dialogue.

Passive learning

Photo by ICSA from Pexels

Passive is learning is effectively practiced in many schools and learning institutes because an estimated 60 percent of people are effectively passive learners. However, the effectiveness of passive learning has been a subject of debate for a long time.

Advantages of passive learning

  • Makes it possible to convey large quantities of information to a large number of learners quickly.
  • Lectures, lecture notes, handouts, audiovisual media, etc, can be systematically planned, prepared in advance and reused later.
  • Affords the teacher greater control of the classroom, the course delivery and the students.
  • Gives students the freedom to absorb information on their own terms.
  • Exposes learners to new material in a structured and engaging format.
  • Gives the teacher the ability to clarify course material without distractions.

Disadvantages of passive learning

  • Can make the learning experience boring and one-dimensional especially for younger generations who have shorter attention span.
  • May result in students misunderstanding concepts due to lack of first-hand interaction with course content.
  • Ignores students’ contributions and opinions.
  • Creates a less conducive environment for students’ questions and concerns.
  • Does not involve students’ contributions in the learning experience.
  • Makes to harder to assess student progress and understanding during the lecture.
  • Encourages memorization rather than sense-making and critical thinking as students are expected to receive the subject matter with "open minds, like empty vessels".
  • Discourages students from asking questions, seeking clarification, or participating in discussions.
  • Relies on the instructor’s speaking and presentation skills.
  • Affects students critical thinking abilities as students are expected to wait for information to be provided and then to follow directions on what to do with that information.

Sydney Chako

Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Sytech Learning Academy. From Junior Secondary School to Tertiary Level Engineering Mathematics and Engineering Science.

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