What is Active Learning?

Instead of students receiving information passively, such as via lecture, students are presented with opportunities and activities that engage them in receiving the information and participating in the process via reflection and active learning opportunities.

Students learn more and retain their learning longer if they acquire it in an active rather than a passive manner. According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, students who participate in collaborative learning activities are better engaged.

How can I encourage Active Learning in my course?

1. By providing engaging experiences for students where they are actively participating in rich learning experiences such as:

  • debates
  • role playing
  • simulations
  • dramatizations
  • service learning
  • situational observations
  • authentic place/context-based projects
  • game playing

2. By requiring reflective dialogue  with self or others such as in:

  • journaling/blogging
  • learning portfolios
  • peer-review
3. By giving frequent, early, personal, positive feedback to students and share your enthusiasm
  • create an atmosphere that is positive and open
  • help students feel that they are valued members of the learning community

4. By using appropriate, concrete, and understandable examples.

  • helps students find meaning in the material
  • encourages light competition
5. By providing good presentation and content of course material
  • present organized course materials
  • materials have appropriate level of difficulty
  • provide variety that engages different modalities
  • materials are relevant


  • How do you successfully engage students in your courses for active learning?
  • How do you envision doing this in an online course?


About the Author:

Jennifer is an instructional designer at UAF eLearning with over 20 years experience working with faculty. She is interested in emergent technologies such as augmented reality, interactive media, and wearable devices and how these trends fit into successful educational experiences. She also enjoys painting, photography, travel and exploring wilderness areas off the grid. Connect with Jennifer at jmossdesign.com

This page was last updated on : Dec 16, 2014