Active Learning Strategies
College faculty have become increasingly comfortable with Active Learning,
which here means any of a variety of strategies or pedagogical projects
designed to place the primary responsibility for creating and/or applying
knowledge on the shoulders of students. For some, active learning means
transforming traditional classroom practices through problem-based
learning or collaborative projects; others move learning beyond the
walls of the classroom through community service-learning activities.
Active Learning techniques do not make the teacher's job easier. In
fact, these teaching strategies usually require a lot of up-front work
from teachers (creating effective problem sets or contacting community
service groups, for example), and likewise, require careful attention
from teachers during the process. However, research suggests that these
strategies greatly increase students' retention of both knowledge and
What Is Active Learning?
- Active Learning (Kathleen
Citing Meyers and Jones (1993), McKinney points out that active learning "derives
from two basic assumptions: (1) that learning is by nature an active
endeavor and (2) that different people learn in different ways." Includes
a brief overview of different active learning strategies.
- Active Learning:
Creating Excitement in the Classroom (Charles C. Bonwell &
James A. Eison)
Bonwell and Eison define active learning as "instructional activities
involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are
doing." A simple Q&A format addresses issues of how to create
more "active" classroom spaces and what barriers teachers
the Bumpy Road to Student-Centered Instruction (Richard Fedler &
Offers suggestions for dealing with resistance from students as teachers
attempt to move their classes from spaces where students only "receive" knowledge
to spaces where students are co-creators of knowledge.
Motivating & Engaging Students
- Examining Student Engagement at
Illinois State (Val Famer-Dougan & Kathleen McKinney)
Farmer-Dougan and McKinney define engagement, report on empirical
evidence at ISU, and conclude that class format, grade satisfaction,
task identity, computer use, and peer relationships have significant
impact on student engagement.
Perceptions of Student Engagement (Lana Berardi & Tom Gerschick)
The authors report that faculty tend to share an intuitive definition
of student engagement, and they note that faculty "may incorrectly
assess the relationship among race and ethnicity, social class, gender
and student engagement."
for Engaging Students (Val Farmer-Dougan & Kathleen McKinney)
Several brief suggestions for making students more active and engaged
participants in their own education, including connecting class topics
with students' lives, offering students choices in their learning,
as well as using writing and various technologies.
Learning: An Introduction (James Rhem)
Explains the basics of problem-based learning, defined here as "an
instructional strategy in which students confront contextualized,
ill-structured problems and strive to find meaningful solutions."
- Problem-Based Learning Initiative
@ Southern Illinois School of Medicine
A useful site which includes information on how to structure micro-
and macro-level PBL.
- Using the Internet
to Promote Inquiry-Based Learning (David Jakes et al.)
This e-paper "describe[s] a structured approach to inquiry-based
learning that uses the World Wide Web as a primary information resource.
Specifically, we address an intuitive 8-step process that begins
with an essential question and ends with a knowledge product produced
by students, typically completed in a cooperative setting."
Back to Teaching Tips