Active learning refers to a wide variety of teaching techniques that encourage active participation, student engagement, and the co-construction of knowledge.
Rather than “covering” a determined body of content through lecture, active learning instructors remain responsive to frequent student feedback in order to decide what still needs to be taught, reviewed, or reexamined.
Using active learning can:
- Engage 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
What do students do in an active learning classroom?
In an active learning classroom, a professor might:
- Give students frequent, “low-stakes” assignments to gauge what they’ve learned
- Involve students in peer instruction
- Design writing-to-learn exercises for students to complete
- Engage students in collaborative or cooperative learning
- Lecture, but with an active component (i.e. using clickers, turn-and-talks, think/pair/share, short summary exercises, or other components to assess what students have learned
Active Learning Resources
- Ideas for Peer Review
- Teaching Ideas for Online Class Sessions
- Checking student understanding with Plickers
- Multimodal assignments
- Women’s History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
- Listening, Improv, & Fostering Digital Literacy: Discussion in the Post-Election Classroom
- Getting the Discussion Started
- Preparing for Challenging Discussions
What we do
If you’re interested in learning more about active learning, the Center for Teaching and Learning offers several resources for faculty that might be of interest:
The Active Learning Strategies repository: This is a website full of descriptions of ready-to-go active learning techniques designed to be used in classes across the disciplines.
Active Learning for Math blog: In collaboration with the Student Academic Consulting Center (SACC), the Center for Teaching and Learning developed a complete set of detailed lesson plans for Baruch’s Intermediate Algebra course, available for use by current and future instructors of the course and any other interested math teachers.
Active Learning Faculty Seminar: In the summer of 2018, the Center for Teaching and Learning held an inaugural Active Learning Faculty Seminar for faculty across several disciplines to introduce the foundational concepts of constructivist pedagogy and to help faculty to develop their own active learning lesson plans.
Faculty Workshops: The Center for Teaching and Learning has offered several workshops covering and demonstrating some of the fundamental principles of active learning to faculty. If you’re interested in inviting a Center for Teaching and Learning staff member to give a workshop, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.