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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

​Active Learning


Active learning gives students the opportunity to participate in activities that enhance their understanding of a subject matter rather than being passive recipients of knowledge.

Have Students interact with...
  • Other students – have them work together through peer review, think-pair-share, discussion boards, or group projects
  • Course content - allow students to engage directly with new material - readings, required videos, essays and other practice tools
  • You! Provide ample feedback during the class and allow for questions and discussion
Build Community
  • Especially when teaching online, spend time in the first few weeks for students to get to know one another
  • Spend time interacting with students to build trust
  • If you have larger group projects later on, start small early in the semester
    • Have students work in pairs
    • Break up larger projects into small pieces
    • Introduce collaborative technology, like OneDrive, in early, low-stakes activities

In Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, Elizabeth Barkley states that “the greater the student's involvement or engagement in academic work or in the academic experience, the greater their level of knowledge acquisition and general cognitive development.”

Active learning encourages collaboration, promotes critical and creative thinking skills, and increases engagement. It can also be fun!

  1. 1Choose the active learning strategy, making sure it aligns with your intended learning outcomes:
  2. Plan the activity and account for any logistical preparations
  3. Set aside plenty of time for instructing students and tell them how this activity supports their learning
  4. Evaluate how it went and adjust your plan going forward
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