Action-based learning is a planned activity that helps learners process and retain new information by allowing them to interact and/or experience the lesson firsthand. The basic premise of action-based learning is that learners retain and understand information better by doing. Only 10% of the information that we hear in a lecture is retained, but 90%–95% of what we learn by practicing it ourselves or teaching others is retained.
The following are examples of action-based learning:
- Role-playing or simulation
- Clients teaching each other
- Activities such as creating scrapbooks, recipe collections, posters, handouts, etc
Action-based learning activities for dietitians
The following are examples of how dietitians can use these activities in their practice.
Have debates based on organic food, biotechnology, or any other food topic with an ethical component to it, making sure no definitive “right” or “wrong” answer exists.
Use games that reward skill or strategy—action oriented. A “big loser” style weight-loss game is action-based learning. Games based on Jeopardy!®, Wheel of Fortune®, and The Price Is Right® often are used in group settings.
Pass out menus or recipe books, and ask clients to choose a meal that is appropriate for their diet.
Role play or simulate how clients could/should interact with people who cause difficulty with their eating habits, such as a family member who gets upset if a client refuses seconds at dinner.
Ask a client or class to prepare a healthy snack.
Learning by teaching
Have your clients teach you about their new diet.
Meet clients at a grocery store to do their weekly shopping. If this is not possible, make a grocery list together.
Ask your clients to help you write a lesson plan, make a poster, or create handouts that you can use with future clients.
Have your clients create a recipe collection based on the diet principles that they are learning.
Things that might go wrong
It is important to know that things can sometimes go wrong when implementing action-based learning.
Participants might feel too shy or uncomfortable with the activity, or they might focus too much on their personal opinions.
Role-playing or simulation
People may feel uncomfortable at first and can feel quite vulnerable.
Too much competition can have a negative impact on learner outcome. Some people may not participate much.
Clients may become too involved in the creative aspects of the project and lose sight of the learning process.
Reference and recommended reading
Hitch EJ, Youatt JP. Using action-oriented learning strategies. In: Communicating Family and Consumer Sciences: A Guidebook for Professionals. Tinley Park, IL: Goodheart-Willcox; 2005:171-201.
Review Date 9/12