Active learning (sometimes called student-centered learning) is an instructional method that focuses on building skills,  competencies, and critical thinking abilities by engaging students in active behaviors such as writing, collaborative problem solving, discussions, peer-to-peer instruction, and other techniques.

Instead of focusing primarily on information transfer, and instead of assessing learning primarily through high-stakes tests, active learning instructors seek continual “low-stakes” or “no-stakes” feedback about how students have understood key concepts. This feedback determines the pace and the direction of future instruction.

Research shows that active learning may improve student engagement and performance (please see our annotated bibliography for more information). Additionally, using active learning can:

  • Provide instructors with a greater number of tools and approaches for engaging students with course content (and, therefore, engaging students with a wide variety of learning styles)
  • Give students a chance to develop a more personal connection to the content and, thus, increase motivation
  • Foster a deeper sense of community between the students and professor and between the students themselves
  • Facilitate more opportunities for critical thinking

On this site, you’ll find some research about the benefits of active learning as well as some practical tips and techniques that will help you incorporate active learning strategies in your own class.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Want to discuss how best to implement active learning strategies? Trying to plan an active learning professional development session for the instructors in your department? The staff at Baruch’s Center for Teaching and Learning would love to meet with you in person, over e-mail, or via Skype. Please contact our hybrid seminar coordinators, Laurie Hurson at laurie.hurson@baruch.cuny.edu or Lindsey Albracht at lindsey.albracht@baruch.cuny.edu to set up an appointment.