Active Learning

Increasing Active Learning in Lecture and Discussion Classes

1. Mix the lecture up with cooperative learning groups. Start the class off with small groups, discussing a question. Then, after different segments of the lecture, have the small groups discuss for several minutes. The final segment of the lecture should integrate both the lecture and the discussion sections.

2. Have students write summaries or journals based on the lecture.

3. Have students give feedback at several points in the lecture. The students could stop and write down several points they want to discuss or any unclear points in the lecture. The instructor then collects the student’s ideas and picks several to go over in class.

4. Design writing assignments that must include lecture material.

5. Increase the “wait time” after you ask a question. Don’t answer the question right away and consider letting students freewrite following larger questions before the class discusses them.

6. Out of class writing can increase the classes readiness to discuss in class.

7. The students can generate the discussion questions.

8. Instructors can hold a discussion about discussions and point out ineffective and effective discussion techniques.

9. Students can present papers and presentations as part of the class.

10. “Cold-calling” can be an effective tool if used correctly and students are encouraged to “think on their feet.”

11. The class can be divided into panels or teams that debate different sides of an issue.

(Bean, 170-179)

Works Cited

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001.


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