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While all learning is active, the term active learning here refers to the conscious design of teaching and learning activities that are student-centered. These types of activities  promote student engagement in and responsibility for learning.

What is the value of active learning for students?

The most important value is that active learning increases students’ retention and comprehension of the course material. Active learning utilizes the students’ data and knowledge base. Students have an opportunity to provide personal insights and interpretation, thereby developing their own answers. The process allows students to experiment with ideas, to develop concepts, and to integrate concepts into systems.

Research shows that active learning seeks to engage a greater range of students in effective learning. Furthermore, it positively affects the attitude of students toward self and peers in the learning process. Active learning develops social experiences between students and between teacher and students. It can build community within the classroom.

What is the value of active learning for teachers?

Active learning concentrates on the teaching function. It helps you select objectives at the correct level of difficulty to meet your students’ needs. You encourage the students to be responsible for their own learning. Active learning brings your students into the organization, thinking, and problem-solving process of your discipline. Active learning also gives you time to perform the helping teacher functions of coach, listener, and advocate.

How do I use active learning?

You don’t have to completely redesign your course to incorporate active learning strategies. This collection of interactive techniques is a great resource for easily and quickly assessing your students’ understanding of material and offering opportunities for deliberate practice. Most can be easily implemented into any course regardless of size, design, or discipline.

To learn more about active learning, its benefits, and resources for using it, visit the University of Minnesota’s Center for Educational Innovation website on Active Learning.