What is Active Learning?

Active Learning is an approach to teaching and learning that:

  • places the needs, interests, attitudes, and experiences of the students at the center of instruction planning;
  • uses instructional strategies that are student-centered instead of instructor-centered;
  • engages students in activities that help develop higher-order thinking skills through the application of knowledge, analysis, and/or synthesis.

Why should you adopt Active Learning Techniques?

  • Passively listening to a lecture is not useful for promoting higher-level thinking skills such as synthesis, evaluation, inquiry, and creation. 
  • Students learn best when there is a balance between lectures and learner-centered activities, and when the activities are varied and support higher-order thinking skills. 
  • Research suggests that active learning techniques improve student grades and retention rates, and promote critical thinking skills. 


One of the easiest ways to start using active learning is to intersperse small, meaningful activities into your lectures to make your lecture more interactive and promote deeper learning.

For getting started with Active Learning:

  • Start small and gradually add more activities over time; 
  • Explain why you are doing it for student buy-in; 
  • Design activities that have a clear task; 
  • Consider how you will form groups to minimize disturbances to the class flow; 
  • Prepare clear instructions to keep everyone on task; 

Active Learning Lesson Models 

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