Active Learning


Active learning is anything students do during a class session other than passively listen to a lecture: i.e., read, write, discuss, or engage in problem-solving. Typically, these strategies involve students in such higher order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These activities can replace lectures as a means of conveying information or they can supplement lecturing. They can range from something as simple as a brief writing exercise in which students react to lecture material to more complex activities such as problem-based learning or the use of case studies. This section provides links to articles, bibliographies, research, and specific techniques for active learning.


General Resources

Active and Cooperative Learning, R.M. Felder.
Links to active/cooperative learning journal articles and websites.

"Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom," Charles C. Bonwell & James A. Eison.
Discusses the value of active learning and ways it can be incorporated into the classroom.

Active Learning for the College Classroom, Donald R. Paulson & Jennifer L. Faust.
Describes 29 active learning techniques.

Active Teaching and Learning (Module 3 of Getting Results, an online course for instructors on course development, funded by the National Science Foundation, produced by WGBH in Boston and The League for Innovation).
Rationale and strategies for active learning in the college classroom, including teaching and learning in the lab.

Scenes from a Classroom: Making Active Learning Work (University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching and Learning Services).
A tutorial with guidelines and keys to success for planning active learning activities. Includes scenarios depicting typical problems and their solutions.

Active Learning in Large Classes: Video Resource (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Center for Instructional and Professional Development).
This site provides an interactive tutorial on active learning. Seven video clips, each accompanied by a Word document tutorial, demonstrate active learning strategies in action in large classes: clickers, learning teams, discussions, and other in-class activities. Requires QuickTime for videos.

Active Learning with PowerPoint University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching and Learning Services).
A tutorial on ways to use active learning strategies with PowerPoint presentations; includes 12 active learning strategies.

"Student Diversity Requires Different Approaches to College Teaching, Even in Math and Science," Craig Nelson, Indiana University (In American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 40, No. 2, November/December 1996, 165-175).
Describes research by Triesman and others demonstrating the positive effect of using collaborative small groups with students from non-traditional backgrounds, such as Blacks, Hispanics, and rural whites, who are struggling with college coursework. Argues that traditional approaches are biased against such students, while active learning strategies can lead to “massive differences in overall student achievement.”

The World Café.
Free resources for designing small group roundtable discussions based on seven integrated design principles.  The site offers a tool kit, hosting guides, and an online community for practitioners.

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