Students engaging in the learning process because they are actively doing something – analyzing, brainstorming, discussing, problem solving, reading, etc.
Why active learning?
- Students employ the "learning by doing" approach while the instructor is present to offer guidance and answer questions.
- Retention from doing-type activities, including practice and application, can be higher than retention from more traditional teaching methods.
- Active learning can be used to engage students in:
- Application of concepts or skills
- Critical thinking
Ideas for active learning in higher education
- Active Learning Techniques from Indiana University
- Promoting Active Learning wiki from the University of Utah
- Active Learning with PowerPoint tutorial from the University of Minnesota
- Active Learning in the College Classroom from Jennifer Faust and Donald Paulson at CSU-Los Angeles
- Active and Collaborative Learning in Higher Ed blog written by Laura Middlesworth
Books available from CETL
- Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject by Mel Silberman
- Classroom Assessment Techniques by Angelo and Cross
- Collaborative Learning Techniques by Barkley, Cross, and Major
- Engaging Ideas by John Bean
- Learner Centered Teaching: Putting the Research on Learning into Practice by Terry Doyle
- McKeachie's Teaching Tips by Svinicki and McKeachie
- Student Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth Barkley
- Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross DavisJournals
- Active Learning in Higher Education (access available through McIntyre Library)
- College Teaching (access available through McIntyre Library)
- New Directions for Teaching and Learning (access available through McIntyre Library)
- List of discipline-specific journals on teaching and learning (compiled by UNC-Charlotte)
- While some active learning activities are spontaneous, many require that the instructor design and/or prepare the activity prior to the class period.
- Motivation for active learning often needs to be shared with the students as many are used to a more passive classroom environment.
- Instructors may struggle with giving up some control over what is happening in the classroom.
- Active learning activities can take up a significant portion of a class period.
Suggestions for getting started
- Begin small and integrate active learning activities gradually.
- Incorporate active learning into something that already happens in the classroom. What changes could be made so that students are actively contributing to that process?
- Look around for existing activities from your discipline; many instructors share examples online and in journals focused on student engagement.