Active learning

As you plan and deliver your teaching, a key goal should be creating a learning environment where students feel supported, engaged, and involved in their learning journey. Active learning will help you achieve this.

Active learning, either physical or online, stimulates students through talking, writing, reading, reflecting, or questioning. Numerous active learning strategies can be used in both large and small classes, where students work individually or in groups. These strategies can take as little as two minutes or you can stretch it out to an entire class session or even the whole week if combined with an online environment.

There are numerous active learning strategies that can be used in both large and small classes:

  • Peer instruction
  • Think-pair-share
  • Q&A pairs
  • 1 minute paper
  • Case Studies
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Jigsaw Teamwork
  • Student Response System

Active learning strategies can be used for a single question or a series of questions. You might use them at the beginning of the class session to discuss “What do you know about …?”, during the class session, or at the end of class session to discuss “What have you learned today?”

Try to vary your class session at least every 12-15 minutes. Well-placed and carefully designed activities help students process content and minimise information overload, facilitating learning. Active-learning exercises motivate students to use their notes, and the use of short activities fosters greater awareness of the class session itself. If students know that the pace will change often, they are much less apt to be side-tracked by their devices, fall asleep, or skip class.

Active learning strategies

Tips to make active learning work