Active learning requires students to participate in class, as opposed to sitting and listening quietly. Strategies include, but are not limited to, brief question-and-answer sessions, discussion integrated into the lecture, impromptu writing assignments, hands-on activities and experiential learning events. As you think of integrating active learning strategies into your course, consider ways to set clear expectations, design effective evaluation strategies and provide helpful feedback.
“Start classes with a puzzle to be solved or a mystery to be understood. Behind all of the window-dressing, this is what we are really doing when we create strong active learning modules.”
Ben Wiggins, Course Coordinator, Biology
Resources on writing to learn
Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
Writing prompts and assignments
Examples of low-stakes writing assignments, Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo
- Active learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom, by Charles Bonwell and James Eison
- Active learning with PowerPoint, Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Minnesota
- Six Ways to Discourage Learning, by Douglas Duncan (American Astronomical Society Education Office) and Amy Singel Southon (Chicago Botanic Gardens).
- Bronwell, C. C., & Elson, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. Washington, DC: School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University.
- Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2003). Learning by doing. Chemical Engineering Education, 37(4), 282-309.