Active Learning

Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content. Cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and the use of case methods and simulations are some approaches that promote active learning. This section provides links to bibliographies, research summaries, articles, and other resources about active learning.

Active Learning Continuum

This handout graphically represents the relative complexity of different active learning techniques. It also provides brief descriptions for each of the activities on the continuum.

Videos of Arthur F. Thurnau Professors: Engaging Students in the Classroom and Beyond

Arthur F. Thurnau Professorships are awarded annually to tenured U-M faculty who have made outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. This series of videos documents the ways in which these professors stimulate student engagement in their courses. There are also summary point pages that provide easy to follow strategies.

Active Learning for the College Classroom (Paulson and Faust, California State University, Los Angeles, 1998)

This article presents a wide variety of active learning techniques that can increase student learning in a lecture course. Activities include listening, group, and writing exercises that foster student engagement.

Classroom Activities for Active Learning (Center for Faculty Excellence, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009) 

Actively engaging students motivates deeper thinking about course content, brings additional energy to a classroom, and helps an instructor pin point problem areas.  This article provides summaries of current practices and gives practical suggestions for implementing active learning in a variety of disciplines.  Topics covered include: Questioning techniques, small groups, whole class involvement, and reading & writing exercises.

Does Active Learning Work?  A Review of the Research (Prince, 2004)

This study examines the evidence for the effectiveness of active learning.  It provides a definition of active learning and explores the different types of active learning most frequently discussed in engineering education literature.  Those outside of engineering will likewise find this source helpful in providing concise definitions, literature review, and valuable questions that will promote instructor’s understanding of active learning.