Active Learning Strategies

Overview

MIT TEALActive learning activities can be incorporated in various classrooms as well as in an online environment.  Presented in each section are activities, organized by active learning strategies and instructional approaches, which can be adapted into many classroom types:

  • Reflection Strategies
  • Polling Strategies
  • Group Strategies
  • Reasoning Strategies
  • Instructional Strategies

Each section lists active learning activities that are compatible with specific active learning classroom types.  Each activity listed states suggested classroom types based in the TASLO legend:

Expand each section to view a typical approach of active learning activities that can be used in the classroom or online space. To further explore, customize or incorporate these activities into your teaching, contact the Instructional Design and Development to schedule a meeting with an Instructional Designer.

In these types of activities, lower levels of Blooms Taxonomy (level Remember to level Apply) are practiced.

In each activity, refer to the TASLO Legend (T: TEAL-- Technology Enabled Active LearningA: Active Learning , S: Suitable for Active Learning , L: Lecture, O: Online) to determine the suggested classroom type to use for that specific activity.


Minute Papers (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Minute Paper activity encourages students to reflect on a core concept anytime before, after or during the class.
  • All students gain viewpoints of their peers, active  listening skills, awareness of theory and the ability to share verbally.

Approach

  • Pose a question, a problem set or  a misconception to the class.
  • Have students respond by writing or illustrating within a short period of time (e.g., 1-3 minutes).
  • Either break students into small groups or whole class response to share their comprehension of the specific concept. 
  • Offer class feedback and clear up any misconceptions of the concept.

 

 

Think-Pair-Share (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Think-Pair-Share activity encourages students to identify the topic, demonstrate their comprehension and share out to their peers. 
  • The Think-Pair-Share activity encourages students to listen, observe and understand their peer's knowledge of topic.
  • All students collaborate with their peers and gain varied viewpoints, active listening skills along with a better understanding of the concept.

Approach

  • Have students individually think about a particular question, scenario, or problem.
  • Pair students to discuss their ideas, comprehension or answers to the concept.  Collaboration amongst the pairs will expand the students knowledge of the scenario and promotes clarity.
  • Have the students discuss their findings with the whole class and provide feedback as necessary.

 

 

Short Problems (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Short Problem activity encourages students to demonstrate their knowledge of solving problems and sharing with class and instructor.
  • All students gain a better understanding of the short problem, actively listen to their peer's findings and the ability to share-out to class.

Approach

  • Create time for students to work individually or in small group on problem sets in or out of class.Present the problem sets on screen, written on a white board or available online.   
  • Have students share with their peers, the findings and solutions with peer groups.
  • Gather students together to offer feedback and clear up any misconceptions.

In these types of activities, lower levels of Blooms Taxonomy (level Remember to level Apply) are practiced. 

In each activity, refer to the TASLO Legend (T: TEAL-- Technology Enabled Active LearningA: Active Learning , S: Suitable for Active Learning , L: Lecture, O: Online) to determine the suggested classroom type to use for that specific activity.


Interactive Learning (TASL)

Purpose

  • Instructors recognize what level of comprehension or misconceptions students have of the topic.
  • Instructors share feedback visually.
  • Students discuss their understanding with peers groups.
  • All students are able to actively engage independently or in study groups.

Approach

  • Ask students to access an interactive learning platform for anonymous polling or to participate in an interactive game. *Examples of interactive learning platforms for polling or gaming.
  • Pose a provoking or guiding question to students and have students answer independently or in groups.  
  • Have students discuss their understanding of the topic.
  • Repose question to students, share feedback and clear misconceptions.

*Kahootan interactive tool that easily engages students to create, share and play learning games or trivia quizzes. 

*Polleverwhere an interactive polling tool that engages students to participate in realtime participation with instant feedback.

*Mentimeteran interactive tool that students can respond to questions, contribute to the content and receive visual feedback.

 

 

iClicker Questions (TASL)

Purpose

  • iClicker questions posed at various points throughout a lecture prompt students to identify, relate or interpret instructional material.
  • The iClicker activity allows for instructors and students to recognize what level of comprehension or misconceptions they have of the topic.

Approach

  • All students use their iclicker to respond to questions before, during and/or at the end of the class.  
  • Instructor presents feedback on screen to clear up any misconceptions or to confirm understanding.
  • iClicker questions can be graded and imported into myCourses.

UNH supports iClicker, if you are interested in incorporating iClickers into the active learning classroom, visit How to get started with iClicker.

In these types of activities, higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy (level Understandto level Create) are practiced. 

Fish Bowl (TAS)

Purpose

  • The Fishbowl discussion activity encourages students to explain and demonstrate their knowledge of a specific topic.  
  • The Fishbowl observers activity cultivates students active listening  and critiquing skills. 

Strategy

  • Break students into two groups, group 1 with a few students and group 2 with the remaining students. 
  • Group 1, the fishbowl discussers, are in the inner circle.  Have students discuss, debate or share expertise in the field for a specific timeframe.
  • Group 2, are the observers of group 1.  Have students listen, take notes, write a response or illustrate what they have observed. 
  • Once the fishbowl discussions is over, have the students in group 2 share their feedback and observations to group 1.
  • During the activity instructors observe and listen to both groups. Instructors provide  feedback to the class.

 

Poster and Gallery Walk (TAS)

Purpose

  • The Poster and Gallery Walk activity encourages students to create a visual explanation and demonstration of a concept.
  • The Poster and Gallery Walk activity provides students to examine their peers understanding of the concept. 
  • All students gain viewpoints of their peers, improve the ability to collaborate and share with each other to produce tangible content.

Approach

  • Break students into small groups to work collaboratively to explain a concept, respond to course content  questions or debate a specific topic with one another.  The assignment can be done with using pieces of paper, post-it poster board, shared group computer and screens (e.g., TEAL classroom), web-based applications (e.g., Voicethread) online learning.
  • Once students have completed the poster assignment, have them display it, much like at a scientific poster session. One student in each group will stay with the poster and help to explain it as the class circulates to look at all of the posters. Students rotate so that everyone has a chance to visit all the posters.  
  • Gather class together to debrief, hear student's feedback and add additional clarification to the concept. 

 

 

Buzz Groups (TASO)

Purpose

  • Buzz Group activity generally takes place during a lecture timeframe to encourage student discussion. 
  • Buzz Group activity encourages students to listen, reflect and examine their peers understanding of the specific topic.
  • All students gain viewpoints of their peers, active  listening skills, awareness of theory and the ability to share verbally.

Approach

  • Break the class into small groups consisting of three to four students.
  • Each group discusses the topic or guided questions briefly to generate arguments, answers, or ideas. 
  • Each small group then shares one idea, answer, or argument with the class. 

 

Jigsaw and Expert Groups (TA)

Purpose

  • TheJigsaw/Expert Group activity encourages students to work independently becoming experts in a specific chunk of content topic.  
  • The Jigsaw/Expert Group activity helps students to become the experts by synthesizing and constructing their comprehension of the content with their peers.
  • All students gain viewpoints of their peers, active listening skills and the ability to compile component ideas into a new idea or solution.

Approach

  • Put students into small groups (e.g., 4-6 students), this will become their "home group".  
  • Divide the cocontent topic into chunks (e.g., 4-6) depending on how many students are in the home groups.  
  • Assign each student in the home group one chunk of the content topic.  
  • Independently, students gather information and research their content chunk while staying assembled in their home group.  
  • Once the allotted time is up, students in each home group find their perspective experts of their assigned content chunk and form  an "expert group". 
  • Each expert group shares with one another their findings and they work together to synthesize all the information gathered.
  • Instructor assesses and validates each expert group's content knowledge.
  • Within the expert group students prepare and create a report, analysis or presentation of materials learned to demonstrate their knowledge of the content chunk assigned.
  • Students move back to their original home groups to present to their home group on their assigned content.  
  • Assess the students understanding of the content topic or skill.

 

 

In these types of activities, lower levels of Blooms Taxonomy (level Understand to level Evaluate) are practiced. 

Four Corners (TASO)

Purpose

  • The Four Corners activity builds critical thinking skills.
  • The Four Corners activity encourages students to listen, think on their own and defend their understanding of the specific topic.
  • All students gain viewpoints of their peers, active listening skills, awareness of differences in thinking and the ability to share verbally.

Approach

  • Create four corners within the classroom having each corner display a Likert type responses (e.g., Agree, Strongly Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree). 
  • At the beginning, during or end of class share a statement and have students actively move to the corner of the room with the Likert response they most agree with.
  • Allow time for students to discuss and write down at least one reason why they choose that "corner". 
  • Have each corner share out to class those reasons.

 

 

Post-It Parade (TAS)

Purpose

  • The Post-It Parade activity stimulates students creativity and the ability to generate ideas.  
  • The Post-It activity promotes active listening skills and collaboration amongst students.

Approach

  • Instructors provide students with a question or a prompt and gives students post-its to use in activity.
  • Create spaces around the room for topics related to the prompt.
  • Students generate ideas, solutions, or comprehension of the question or prompt and write down a summary on the post-it.
  • Students place their post-it in the topic area that pertains to their response and discusses with their peers.
  • Instructors gather students, talk over responses and provide feedback to clear up any misconceptions.

 

Debate (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Debate activity encourages each group to explore and defend their position on a specific topic.
  • The Debate activity encourages each group to listen and examine their position.
  • The Debate activity fosters audience group to critically assess debate groups and share findings.
  • All students gain a better understanding for the differences in each groups position, active  listening skills, and the ability to contribute verbally.

Approach

  • Break students into two groups, "Pro" group and "Con" group and have a few students as the "Audience". 
  • Give the Pro and Con group the topic allowing students to gather their position on the specified topic.  This can be done  before class so students have time to organize their thoughts. 
  • Provide a rubric for the "Audience" as they will be assessing the debate and sharing that assessment with both groups.
  • Taking turns, both groups bring forth their arguments, making rebuttals, and summarizing. 
  • Audience listens, takes notes and completes rubric to prepare for share-out.
  • Once the debate is over have the Audience provide assessment of debate and rubric score.
  • Instructors contribute additional feedback to all students.
     

In these types of activities, higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy (level Understand to level Evaluate) are practiced. 

Socratic Questioning (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Socratic Questioning activity builds critical thinking skills by asking questions, drawing answers to enhance students thinking process.
  • The Socratic Questioning activity helps students gain perspectives and viewpoints of a content topic.

Approach

  • Instructor poses open-ended questions to students either in groups or as a class.
  • Six types of Socratic Questions:
    1. Getting students to clarify their thinking and explore the origin of their thinking
    2. Challenging students about assumptions
    3. Providing evidence as a basis for arguments
    4. Discovering alternative viewpoints and perspectives and conflicts between contentions
    5. Exploring implications and consequences
    6. Questioning the question
  • Instructor sets ground rules for active listening, collaborative space and overall respect among students.  
  • Students respond to the question posed and contribute to class discussion or group.  
  • Once students have contributed in the discussion the instructor offers clarification where needed and affirmation to students responses. 

  

 

Social Annotation of Text (TASLO)

Purpose

  • The Social Annotation activity prepares students for pre-class readings (e.g., Flipped Classroom).
  • The Social Annotation activity supports collaborative learning.

Approach

  • Break students into small groups or work independently. 
  • Select a content topic for the students to annotate (e.g., ask questions, unknown or difficult words, note taking as independent study).
  • Select a platform for performing the social annotation, such as https://web.hypothes.is 
  • Students share their annotation with their class.

Active Learning Activities by Room Type (TASLO)

TEAL

Active Learning Classroom 

Suitable for Active Learning        

Lecture

Online / Hybrid  

Snowball Groups

Jigsaw

Post-it-Parade

Reflection

Peer Review

Project-based Jigsaws

Mind/Concept Mapping

Group Text Reading

Social Annotation of Text

Case Study

Display Think-Pair-Share

Reflection

Reflection

Scavenger Hunt

Reflection 

Posters with Screens

Fish Bowl

Fish Bowl

Short Problems

Discussion Forum

Four Corners

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Minute Paper

Reflection

Reflection

Video Vignettes

Video Vignettes

Polling Questions

Four Corners

Fish Bowl

Minute Paper

Minute Paper

Drawing Concepts

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Polling Questions

Polling Questions

Socratic Questioning

Video Vignettes

Video Vignettes

Drawing Concepts

Drawing Concepts

Think-Pair-Share

Minute Paper

Minute Paper

Socratic Questioning

Socratic Questioning

Debate

Short Problems

Polling Questions

Think-Pair-Share

Think-Pair-Share

Pros and Cons

Drawing Concepts

Drawing Concepts

Buzz Groups

Buzz Groups

Peer Review

Socratic Questioning

Socratic Questioning

Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons

 Index Card Pass

Think-Pair-Share

Think-Pair-Share

Peer Review

Peer Review

Interactive Learning

Buzz Groups

Buzz Groups

Index Card Pass

 Index Card Pass

 iClicker Questions

Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons

Interactive Learning

Interactive Learning

 

Peer Review

Peer Review

Short Problems

Short Problems

 

Social Annotation of Text

Index Card Pass

iClicker Questions

iClicker Questions

 

Debate

Short Problems Poster and Gallery Walk Poster and Gallery Walk    Index Card Pass
Interactive Learning Debate Four Corners    
iClicker Questions Post-It Parade Post-It Parade    
Jigsaw Social Annotation of Text Debate    
Post-It Parade Four Corners Social Annotation of Text    
Debate        
Social Annotation of Text