Promoting Active Learning

About Active Learning

“Active learning” means students engage with the material, participate in the class, and collaborate with each other. Don’t expect your students simply to listen and memorize; instead, have them help demonstrate a process, analyze an argument, or apply a concept to a real-world situation.

The Importance Of Active Learning

Whether you’re facing a lecture hall filled with 300 students or a seminar table with 15 students, one of your primary goals for the class should be to actively engage students with the material. Students learn more when they participate in the process of learning, whether it’s through discussion, practice, review, or application (Grunert, 1997). This is in stark contrast to traditional styles of teaching, where students are expected to sit for hours, listening and, theoretically, absorbing information presented by the instructor.

Incorporate active learning strategies into every component of your course design. For example, encouraging short partner discussions during lectures (i.e., think-pair-share), adding problem- or case-based research projects to the curriculum, and incorporating time for small-group critical analysis exercises during seminars are all great ways to actively engage students in learning.

Because it can take time and creativity to develop active learning exercises, we provide many examples on the Teaching Commons website, particularly in Teaching Strategies. Keep reading for some sample strategies to help get you started.

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