Active Learning & Student Engagement

Compiled by Lauren V. Kachorek with help from Kirsten Olds, CRLT, 2009

GENERAL STRATEGIES
Start with Open-Ended Questions – these types of questions help begin a discussion because they encourage multiple viewpoints.  They also tend to invite students to share their opinions, which can generate additional topics or define crucial issues.  “What struck you as most successful / problematic about the characters in Little Women?”

Ask Questions with Multiple Answers – this is the most straightforward method of encouraging student participation because it removes the students’ fear of answering incorrectly.  Instead of asking, “Why is the ending of Little Women a good one?” ask, “What are other ways in which Louisa May Alcott might have ended Little Women?”  While this type of question does not ask students to recall details from the ending of the book, it does promote critical thinking because it forces them to put together an argument that the details of the book will support.

Utilize Follow-Up Questions – when students respond with an answer that is very brief or short, don’t miss the opportunity to ask a follow-up question: “Can you tell me more?” or “Why do you say that?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?” Read more »

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This occasional paper discusses research showing how student personal response systems (often called 'clickers') can support student learning. It gives specific strategies for using clickers to assess student knowledge prior to the course, check students' understanding of new material, administer tests, document attendance, and more. The paper also discusses challenges and proposes best practices for using clickers for a range of purposes. 
 
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In this CRLT Occasional Paper, we describe specific classroom strategies and teaching behaviors that have been demonstrated to improve the success of a diverse body of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses. We also provide practical advice to individual faculty members who are seeking to implement these teaching strategies. Extensive research on why students leave STEM fields suggests that individual faculty can play a key role in supporting and retaining a diverse student body in STEM. Although underrepresented groups may have the most to gain, retention-conscious teaching practices are likely to have a positive impact on the persistence of all students in STEM.

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This Occasional Paper describes some of the differences that Millennial students bring to the classroom and outlines four principles for teaching Millennials successfully. To illustrate how these principles inform specific teaching strategies, we highlight examples of innovative teaching by U-M faculty.

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