Active Learning

The more active and engaged the learning strategies, the more active and engaged learners will be. Active learning strategies, including lectures, can provide opportunity for facilitators and learners to interact with content and really dive deeper into learning.

There are active learning strategies in the slides below for Large In-Person Classes, Small In-Person Classes, and Online Classes.  You can learn more about each strategy by clicking on the associated info button.

There is also the following lists that may assist in how and what active learning strategies could enhance your learning environment (click on each item to learn more):

Ask for a volunteer to interview you by using a list of questions or a script that you have provided

Allow the interviewer to deviate from the script

Allow others to ask questions as well

As you speak, write single important words on a flip chart to create an emerging content cluster

Try to limit it to seven words on a page

When finished, ask the learners to review by recalling the content triggered by that word. This can be done in small groups.

If at all possible, ask the learners to create an acronym using the words or variations of these words, for ease of memorability.

Find cartoons that relate to your content within the lecture.

For each key point, use a cartoon.

You can show the cartoons again, after the lecture to allow for review.

Good lectures often contain examples, analogies and metaphors

Ask learners in small groups to create an example or analogy of the point you are describing.

Design a printed outline of the key ideas to be covered in lecture

Leave out words or phrases in each item

As you lecture, ask learners to fill in the missing words

Rather than deliver a lecture, put the content in printed form.

Give students a series of questions to answer by searching through the printed material.

Similar to cartoons, use graphics that relate to your lecture content

After you have completed your lecture, ask students to sketch your graphics from memory (neatness is not important)

Then ask learners to recall the content using the graphics as a prompt

Avoid covering content that learners already know

Have small groups list everything they already know about a topic

Post the sheets around the room

Fill in the gaps where information has been omitted

Give post-it notes to 4 or 5 volunteers

Have them record the key points made in a video

Organize the points on a master sheet and post

Lead a discussion using these points

Reading text aloud can help participants to focus mentally, raise questions and stimulate discussion. Works well when material is in a list format.

This technique utilizes a mock trial complete with witnesses, prosecutors, defenders, and friends of the court and more. It is a good method to spark controversy learning, the process of learning by effectively arguing a viewpoint and challenging the opposite view.

This technique enables you to present information in response to questions that have been planted with selected participants.

With this technique, you reverse the roles. At the end of the lecture, instead of asking, “Are there any questions?” you ask questions relating to the material.

This method is similar to an open book test. Teams search for information that answers questions posed for them. Especially useful with dry material.

Students are given a handout at the beginning of class, which covers the lecture material. They review it in study groups with clear directions such as the following:

Clarify the content

Create examples of the information or applications

Identify points that are confusing

Argue with the text or develop an opposing point of view

The students then reconvene and do one or more of the following: review the material, quiz, obtain questions, ask participants to assess how well they understood, provide an application exercise

Each group creates poster or visual display of the lecture content. This technique is a great way to capture the imagination, invite an exchange of ideas and inform others.

Ask students to bring to the class articles, news items, editorials or cartoons relating to the topic. Divide the group into subgroups and ask members to share with the others.

An active team based strategy. Students are given index cards that contain information or an example that fits into a category. Students find others whose cards seem to fit their categories.

Similar to guided note taking, students are given a bingo card with the key points of the lecture on it.

A technique used to generate ideas. The first stage requires a spontaneous flow of suggestions from the learners without judgement or evaluation. The second stage involves careful analysis to explore the usefulness of the ideas.

A large group is divided into smaller groups for quick discussion. All groups meet simultaneously for 5 –1 0 minutes to react to a topic, generate ideas or discuss an issue.

A written or oral account of a situation is given to students. Together they are asked to analyze the case and present recommendations.

A variation f the case study in which learners is given incomplete data. By analyzing the case and asking the right questions, they can obtain additional data needed to solve the case.

Two learners or teams of learners defend opposite sides of an issue. Learners alternate in presenting their arguments. The purpose is to explore all aspects of an issue and also emphasize strategies required to have your view accepted by others.

Two or more individuals hold a conversation while the learners observe. The individuals in dialogue may be resource people or students. They either present opposing views or simply discuss the issue in an informed manner.

An exercise in which cooperation and competition are used to practice principles learned previously.

Students are asked to speak to the person beside them for a few minutes to discuss an issue, answer a question o generate question to ask. Responses are collected and the teacher manages discussion.

Learners enact a situation in order to try out new skills or apply what has been learned. Role-plays can be scripted, dramatic readings or simultaneous.

Before the lecture, students are divided into four teams. Each team has a role (student a – come up with two questions about the material), (student b – explain which points you agreed with)(student c – explain which points you disagreed with), (student d – explain specific examples or applications of the material)

A fishbowl is a discussion format in which a portion of the group forms a discussion circle and the remaining participants form a listening circle around the discussion group.

Similar to poster sessions, the group creates a visual representation on a topic. Mind maps begin by having a pictorial centre. The points extend from it in varying degrees. Colours, images, symbols and sizes can all be used to promote thinking and explain the concept.

This type of training is useful if you are teaching topic that promotes understanding and sensitivity to people or situations that are unfamiliar to the students. Choose a type of person or situation that you want students to learn about. Then create a way to simulate the situation. Examples include having them dress in a specific way, place them in situations that require them to respond in the role given, have them interview someone in that situation, use an analogy to build the simulation.

Develop games, which will help learners review material. Jeopardy, Who wants to be a Millionaire, Crosswords etc. are examples of games, which can help to reinforce learning.

Props are an excellent way to create interest through visual impact and to promote retention. Use your imagination to select objects such as hats, pictures, toys, signs and other items that can enhance the points you want to make.

Different assignments are given to different groups. Each subgroup then teaches what they have learned to the rest of the group.

Students are divided into teams. After they have reviewed material, they are given questions to answer. The team with the most correct answers wins.

Tips For Success

  • Plan ahead, considering amount of time to allow for the activity, logistics involved in grouping or pairing students, and careful wording of instructions. Assign reasonable, yet tight time allotment for each aspect of the learning experience.
  • Move quickly from one phase of the activity to the next, i.e., from the setup and instructions to the student processing to the reporting.
  • Watch the time and announce “2-minute warning” or other intervals appropriate to the length of the activity.
  • Give clear and specific instructions, providing printed instructions for each student, when appropriate, and going over them in class.
  • Put time limits on feedback reports and make the feedback process efficient. Appoint roles or ask for volunteers for group recorder, reporter, etc.
  • Hold students accountable for out-of-class assignments and preparation so they’re ready to contribute to the activity during class.
  • Conduct group work during class time as much as possible so you can facilitate
  • Use a variety of Active Learning strategies and avoid patterns that become ruts, such as repeating an activity every class period