Active Learning Resources

“A longitudinal study of engineering student performance and retention vs. comparisons with traditionally-taught students.”
Felder, R., Felder, G., and Dietz, E.J. (1998). Journal of Engineering Education, 87(4), 469-480. Research on cooperative, active learning
“From teaching to learning, part III: lectures and approaches to active learning.”
Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 21 (1). D.C. Seeler, D.C., Turnwald, G.H., and Bull, K.S. (1994). Their work explores some of the practical issues related to active learning and discusses ways in which the instructor can improve upon the lecture in order to increase student learning and activity. Methods include questioning, modified lecture formats, brainstorming and tests and quizzes.

“Getting Students Involved in the Classroom”
Excerpted from Bergquist, W.H. & Phillips, S.R. (1975). A Handbook for Faculty Development. Council for the Advancement of Small Colleges, Washington, D.C. The authors detail the more common causes for student non-involvement-instructors using one-way communication; students preferring involvement-avoidance learning styles; courses lacking specific structures that foster participation-and offer some possible solutions.

“Mind-mapping in 8 Easy Steps”
“Mind-mapping in 8 Easy Steps,” created by the Innovation Network.

“Reflection Activities for Use with Service Learning”
Article based on Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher’s “Reflection in Service Learning: Making Meaning of Experience” (1999) as well as examples from community college faculty around the country. The activities presented here have been adapted by Diane Sloan, Miami-Dade College, and Toni S. Hartsfield, formerly of Bellevue Community College.

101 Ideas For Combining Service & Learning
101 Ideas for Combining Service and Learning–a list of discipline-specifc ideas for incorporating service-learning into your course.

Academic Controversy
In their book Creative Controversy: Intellectual Challenge in the Classroom and at their website, David and Roger Johnson describe the process of using academic controversy

Active Learning for the College Classroom
Paper by Donald R. Paulson and Jennifer L. Faust of California State University, L.A., that offers techniques for cooperative learning for individuals and for groups. Related concepts: cooperative, active, experiential, science, discussion, feedback, wait time, Socratic method, demonstration, journal, active review, concept mapping

Active Learning for the College Classroom
Provides a survey of a wide variety of active learning techniques which can be used to supplement rather than replace lectures. The authors, Donald Paulson and Jennifer Faust present techniques for use with individual students (without interrupting the whole class) as well as techniques for use with small groups or the whole class.

Active Learning Model
This website presents a model for active learning developed by L. Dee Fink for the University of Oklahoma Instructional Development Program to assist teachers in identifying meaningful forms of active learning to use in the classroom. The premise of the model is that all learning activities involve some kind of experience (observing and/or doing) and some kind of dialogue (dialogue with self and/or with others). There are also suggestions on how to use the model to incorporate active learning into one’s teaching.

Active Learning Resources
To locate more resources about active learning, visit this annotated bibliography

Active Learning Strategies for Humanities Curricula
Middle Tennessee State University Department of Philosophy

Alternatives to Large Group Discussion
The “Alternatives to Large Group Discussion” website advises that “Meeting as a large group for discussion week after week can get old for students and instructors…a variety of activities [will] keep student participation and interest high. You will also find that different students shine depending upon the class format.” Included are suggestions for simulations, field trips, concept maps, debates, games, invited speakers, panel presentations, and small groups.

Brainstorming Before Speaking Tasks
Brainstorming is an activity used to generate ideas in small groups. The purpose is to generate as many ideas as possible within a specified time period. These ideas are not evaluated until the end, and a wide range of ideas is often produced. Each idea produced does not need to be usable. Instead, initial ideas can be viewed as a starting pint for more workable ideas. The principle of brainstorming is that you need a lot of ideas to get good ideas. The Internet TESL Journal’s article “Brainstorming Before Speaking Tasks” describes research on how brainstorming affects learning and also gives practical implementation tips.

Case Studies in Science: A Novel Method of Science Education
Clyde Freeman Herreid describes case studies as educational stories used to teach students about their field

Center for Teaching and Learning
Examples of how to incorporate active learning are explained on this website. The author provides illustrations of several types of paired activities: think/pair/share, question and answer pairs, and note-checking pairs. Guidelines for using paired activities are also included. Finally, there are sections on planning an active learning activity and keys to success.

Center for Values and Service
The website of the Center for Values and Service, Office of Service-Learning, Loyola College–contains course syllabi, information on locating community partners, a course planning guide for faculty, useful agreement forms.

Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques
Brainstorming is designed to generate a large number of ideas in a short period of time. For collaborative brainstorming, it is helpful to structure the activity as a roundtable/round-robin sharing of information

Communication and Active Learning
This site provides a bibliography of resources on using active learning to teach communication – written and oral.

Concept Mapping
“Concept Mapping,” by Steven Hale at Georgia Perimeter College, describes the steps of constructing concept maps and give some examples as illustration.

Concept Maps Trialware
Concept maps can be developed on paper, on the chalkboard, or on a computer. The software company Inspiration offers the following observation about the use of visual learning techniques: “Concept maps are ideal for measuring the growth of student learning. As students create concept maps, they reiterate ideas using their own words. Misdirected links or wrong connections alert educators to what students do not understand, providing an accurate, objective way to evaluate areas in which students do not yet grasp concepts fully.” A free 30-day trial of Inspiration software, which students can use to develop concept maps, can be downloaded

University of Colorado at Denver’s Constructivism website houses links to a comprehensive list of readings on the educational theory of constructivism and its main proponents. Related concepts: cooperative, collaborative, active, experiential learning

Constructivist Teaching and Learning Models
“Constructivist Teaching and Learning Styles” sets forth 12 principles for active teaching and learning based on Caine and Caine’s work, Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. Related concepts: making meaning, learning vs. rote memorization, constructivism, contextual teaching, experiential learning.

Contextual Teaching and Learning
Robert Berns and Patricia Erickson provide an overview of contextual teaching and learning and various approaches to implementing it. Related concepts: active, experiential, career and technical education, CTE

Dyadic Essay Confrontation (DEC)
Developed by L. W. Sherman, the dyadic essay confrontation (DEC) technique has students create an essay question on information previously covered in the course and compose the answer to the question as well. On a separate piece of paper, students write only the essay question

Educational Simulation Website
The Educational Simulation Website describes three broad types of simulations and gives related links: Group or Meeting– Facility Simulation– Virtual Reality.

Experience-Based Learning
This on-line publication includes the chapter, “Experience-Based Learning.” Foley states that “the experience of the learner occupies a central place in all considerations of teaching and learning.” He also sees analysis, reflection and evaluations, as essential. Foley, G. “Experience-Based Learning.” Understanding Adult Education and Training. 2nd ed. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 225-239.

Experiential Learning
Experiential learning is primarily significant in its emphasis on personal involvement and personal acquisition of knowledge and skills through relevant experiences. C. R. Rogers differentiates between “cognitive (meaningless) and experiential (significant)” learning. This concise discussion presents the main characteristics of experiential learning, an approach Rogers sees as particularly applicable to adults. It includes references and links to relevant sites.

Facilitating Discussion: A Brief Guide
By Katherine K. Gottschalk, Director of Freshman Writing Seminars in Cornell University’s John S. Knight Writing Program, provides helpful insight on: creating rapport, encouraging participation, facilitating discussion, getting students to talk to and argue with each other, using small groups, other ideas for invigorating your class.

Faculty Handbook for Service-Learning
This handbook from the University of Maryland describes service learning and provides information and tools to help faculty incorporate service-learning within existing courses or create new service-learning courses. An example service-learning contract is included.

Getting Started with Cooperative Learning
A sample academic controversy exercise developed for an engineering class by Karl Smith

Implementing Service Learning in Higher Education
By Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher. From the Journal of Higher Education, April 1996. Includes a Comprehensive Action Plan for Service-Learning (CAPSL) developed by Campus Compact as a model for institutional change and renewal focusing on four core constituencies: the college, the students, the faculty, and the community.

Interactive-engagement vs. traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses
Written by Hake, Richard R.(1998). American Journal of Physics, 66, 64- 74.

Intergenerational Service-Learning
A website from the Gerontology Department of UNC at Wilmington. Includes helpful forms such as the student contract, proposal, and agreement.

Jigsaw Classroom
The jigsaw technique was first developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
Visit the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science for informative articles on how to develop and use case studies as a teaching tool. Don’t miss “What Makes a Good Case?”

Navigating the Bumpy Road to Student-Centered Instruction
In their very helpful article “Navigating the Bumpy Road to Student-Centered Instruction,” Richard M. Felder and Rebecca Brent explore the change from a lecture-based classroom to a more student-centered learning environment

On Student-Centered Learning and Active Participation
In their article “On Student-Centered Learning and Active Participation,” Kim Haynes Korn and Gay Lynn Crossley describe the role of the teacher in a student-centered classroom. The teacher’s role is flexible, at times requiring more control and direction, at others fostering student independence and decision-making. This site presents an enlightening discussion encompassing everything from having to “complicate [the students’] ideas” to “trusting the students’ sense of purpose,” to “setting high expectations.”

Overview of Cooperative Learning
Although the Active/Collaborative Learning website from the Foundation Coalition is subtitled “Best Practices in Engineering Education,” the site contains many helpful sections, particularly Overview, Preparing, Planning, and Implementing.

Problem Solving
The National Institute for Science Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, offers problem-solving models including Structured Problem-Solving, Discovery Method, Think-Pair-Square, Drill-Review Pairs, and Thinking Aloud Pair Problem-Solving

Problem-Based Learning in Business Education: Curriculum Design and Implementation Issues
A journal article in which John E. Stinson and Richard G. Milter discuss their eleven years experience using a problem-based approach.

Problem-based Learning, especially in the context of large classes
The website of the chemical engineering department at McMaster University provides excellent resources for facilitating problem-based learning–learning in which “the problem drives the learning….that is, before students learn some knowledge they are given a problem. The problem is posed so that the students discover that they need to learn some new knowledge before they can solve the problem.” Included as a resource is an electronic copy of D. R. Woods’ book, Problem-based Learning: Helping Your Students Gain the Most from PBL—written for teachers to give them the process for implementing their personal style of PBL for their environment.

Questioning Strategies
Questions should play an important role in every classroom–both students’ questions and teachers’ questions. Teachers can create an active learning environment by encouraging students to ask and answer questions. This excerpt from the TA Handbook on the University of Delaware’s Center for Teaching Excellence website discusses how teachers should ask questions and how to encourage students to ask questions.

Questioning Techniques for Active Learning
The article “Questioning Techniques for Active Learning” by C. M. Wang and Grace Ong provides tips on asking good questions as well as links to other issues of the online journal Ideas on Teaching, Center for the Development of Teaching and Learning, National University of Singapore, 2000.

Role Playing/Simulation
In this article by Patricia J. Tomkins, the role playing/simulation method is analyzed using the formats of approach, design, and procedure.

Service Learning in Community Colleges: 2003 National Survey Results
Many interesting statistics about institutional and programmatic involvement in service learning can be found in this report on the study commissioned by AACC.

Service-Learning Contract Example
An example student-faculty-agency contract from Loyola College’s Center for Values and Service.

Shumer’s Self-Assessment for Service Learning
A self-reflective system for professionals in the service-learning and experiential learning fields. What follows is a series of instruments and analysis worksheets arranged to help individuals evaluate their current service-learning initiatives to improve and strengthen them. December, 2000 by Rob Shumer, for the Center for Experiential and Service-Learning, Department of Work, Community, and Family Education, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

Some Thoughts About WebQuests
A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from resources on the Internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing. WebQuests are designed to use learners’ time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March, and was outlined then in “Some Thoughts About WebQuests.” The article describes short-term and long-term WebQuest activities as well as the critical and non-critical attributes, thinking skills involved, and design process associated with WebQuests.

Teaching Tips III: suggestions and ideas on teaching
The website for Cleveland State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning includes a section on “Active Learning for Almost Any Size Class” with ideas for three alternative lecture formats

The Active Learning Site
Research summaries at discuss how talking less during lectures increases student learning.

The Case Method of Teaching Science
The University of Buffalo’s website for Case Study Teaching in Science is a goldmine of links to essays and articles about how to use case studies in the classroom.

The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
This site has links to numerous techniques for actively engaging your students in learning. The specific resources listed under Large Class Resources provide a summary of the strategy, ease of use rating, class size, student level, more details about how to implement the strategy, references and list of core competencies. Don’t let the Large Class title deter you, many of the strategies work with as few as 3 students.

Twenty Ways to Make Lectures More Participatory
Lectures play a vital role in teaching. Here are twenty ways to make lectures more participatory. Adapted from Participatory Lectures, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, 1992.

Using Active Learning to Teach Business, Computer Science
This site provides a bibliography of resources on using active learning to teach business and computer science.
WebQuest News provides information about the webquest model–a type of constructivist lesson format.Examples of webquests can be found at this website under the categories “Top,” “Middling,” and “New.”

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