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Examples of Active Learning from UW-Eau Claire Instructors


The examples are organized by activity type; click on a category below to see an overview and framework for the activity as well as the coordinating examples provided by instructors.


  • Artifacts
    "Based on the premise that images and objects can sometimes be more evocative than text, "Artifacts" uses visual representations and handheld items to arouse curiosity, stimulate ideas, and focus students when introducing a topic." (Barkley, 2010, p.161)
  • Buzz Groups
    "Buzz Groups are teams of four to six students that are formed to respond to course-related questions. They are effective for generating information and ideas in a short period of time." (Barkley, Cross, and Major, 2005, p.112) 

  • Card Sort
    "A collaborative activity that can be used to teach concepts, classification characteristics, facts about objects, or review information." (Silberman, 1996, p.103)

  • Collaborative Writing
    "In Collaborative Writing, student pairs or triads write a formal paper together. Each student contributes at each stage of the writing process: brainstorming ideas; gathering and organizing information; and drafting, revising, and editing the writing."(Barkley, Cross, and Major, 2005, p.256)

  • Documented Problem Solutions
    "This technique prompts students to keep track of the steps they take in solving a problem – to 'show and tell' how they worked it out." (Angelo and Cross, 1993, p.222)

  • Focused Listing
    "This technique focuses students' attention on a single important term, name, or concept from a particular lesson or class session and directs them to list several ideas that are closely related to that 'focus point.'" (Angelo and Cross, 1993, p.126)

  • Group-to-Group Exchange
    "In this strategy, different assignments are given to different groups of students. Each group then shares what it has learned with the rest of the class." (Silberman, 1996, p.109)
  • Hearing the Subject
    "Students "listen" to a text passage, film clip, or image, paying close attention to its forms of expression but refraining from evaluating or interpreting the work. Then in small groups, they paraphrase as much of what they witnessed as possible to their team members as a warm-up to a large-group or whole-class discussion in which they make meaning of what they perceived." (Barkley, 2010, p.280) 
  • Information Search
    "Teams search for information (normally covered in a lecture-based lesson) that answers questions posed to them."(Silberman, 1996, p.100)

  • Interest/ Knowledge/ Skills Checklist
    "Students rate their interest in the various topics, and assess their levels of skill or knowledge in those topics, by indicating the appropriate responses on the checklist." (Angelo and Cross, 1993, p.285)
  • Mind Maps or Concept Maps
    "Asking students to create a mind map enables them to identify clearly and creatively what they have learned or what they are planning." (Silberman, 1996, p.126)

  • Peer Lessons
    "This is a strategy to promote peer teaching in the classroom that places the entire responsibility for teaching fellow students on class members." (Silberman, 1996, p.114)

  • Poster Sessions
    "This alternative presentation method is an excellent way to inform students quickly, capture their imaginations, and invite an exchange of ideas among them." (Silberman, 1996, p.119)
  • Reading Aloud
    "Surprisingly, reading a text out loud can help students to focus mentally, raise questions, and stimulate discussion. This strategy has the effect of focusing attention and creating a cohesive group." (Silberman, 1996, p.91)

  • Simulation or Learning by Doing
    "In this strategy, students assume the role of a person whose job they are learning about. Students are given realistic on-the-job assignments with little prior instruction and learn 'by doing.'" (Silberman, 1996, p.153)\
  • Structured Problem Solving

    "Structured Problem Solving provides students with a process for solving a complex, content-based problem within a specified time limit. All members must agree to a solution and must be able to explain both the answer and the strategy used to solve the problem." (Barkley, Cross, and Major, 2005, p.188)

  • Test-Taking Teams
    "Students work in teams to prepare for exams and then take the exams first individually and next as a group."(Barkley, Cross, and Major, 2005, p.163)