Teaching and Learning Resources

Active Learning

Active learning is a form of learning where students are engaged in some activity that challenges them to think about and comment on the information presented. It is an umbrella terms that refers to various modes of instruction that focuses the responsibility of learning on the learners and requires them to reflect upon ideas and how they can use ideas.  Students are expected to go beyond passive listening to develop the abilities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information.  This is often done through discussions with other students, through asking questions, or through writing.

Tips from the McMaster Community

I want to keep the best students challenged without losing the weaker students entirely.

Sometimes, I suspect that students do not understand parts of my lectures

My students don't prepare for seminars, so the student presenter ends up giving a lecture

Sometimes, I think students are not as involved as they would like to be in the course

In problem solving sessions or tutorials, some students are able to solve several problems in the time allotted while others may not solve even one

Sometimes I find it difficult to accommodate small group activities in a large class

My students find it helpful to learn a difficult concept using a role play or skit in the large class setting

Related resources:
Video clip:  prepared by Iowa State University on incorporating small-group interactive activities to supplement instruction and energize students
Activities, games, and exercises:  A terrific website with ideas for team-building activities, initiative games, and problem-solving exercises that can be used to increase active learning in your classroom
Getting students to work and think in the classroom:The National Teaching and Learning Forum has posted a great article on getting students to work and think in the classroom using active learning strategies.

Bonwell, C.C. & Eison, J.A. (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom, ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University.