Teaching Methods

Teaching Resources Banner

Active Learning

Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities that promote analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation of class content. Teaching that requires students to become actively engaged in classroom activities can lead to deeper and more lasting learning. The resources on this page explain the theory behind active learning and provide numerous ideas for teaching techniques that will create conversation and promote significant learning experiences.

Overview and Lists

Active Learning:  An Introduction, defines the concept, identifies key components, and gives examples.

SMU faculty member Barbara Morganfield has created a Live Binder full of active learning resources: weblinks, interactive resources, activities for active learning, and articles assessing its effectiveness.

Faculty Focus provides these Five Key Principles of Active Learning.

The Faculty Center at the University of Central Florida created these guidelines (with examples!) for active learning as well as this nifty long list: 182 Ideas for Interactive Teaching Techniques In and Out of Class.

A chemist and a philosopher share 29 techniques for Active Learning in the Classroom.

Check out these four pages full of Active Learning Techniques from Indiana University School of Education.

Diagnose the obstacles with Getting Students Involved in the Classroom from Cornell's Center for Teaching Excellence.

Does active learning work?  This resource examines the literature.

Scenes from a Classroom:  Active Learning (online tutorial, including video clips demonstrating classroom techniques to make active learning work better)

Engaging Students in the Classroom and Beyond (four videos from the University of Michigan in which award-winning teachers discuss their methods for increasing student engagement in both small and large classes)

Active Learning with Dr. Richard Felder (Chemical Engineering, NC State, large class)

Active learning proves more successful in overcoming misconceptions in Minds of Our Own and A Private Universe, both produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. 

Particular Techniques

Inquiry-Based Learning is one form of active learning. This article explains how it works and gives a detailed example.

Using different types of groups to encourage class discussion:  a handy chart from Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence

Using PowerPoint (yes, really) as a tool to promote active learning with these tips.