Encouraging Active Learning

Coming up with new ways to encourage students’ class preparation and active learning can be difficult. Listed below are some ideas used to encourage class preparation and student’s engagement during class time.

  • Have students write something.
  • Have students keep three-times-a-week journals in which they comment, ask questions, and answer questions about course topics.
  • Invite students to critique each other’s essays or short answers on tests for readability or content.
  • Invite students to ask questions and wait for the response.
  • Probe for student responses with questions.
  • Put students into pairs or “learning cells” to quiz each other over material for the day.
  • Give students an opportunity to voice opinions about the subject matter.
  • Have students apply subject matter to solve real problems.
  • Give students red, yellow, and green cards (made of poster board) and periodically call for a vote on an issue by asking for a simultaneous show of cards.
  • Roam the aisles of a large classroom and carry on running conversations with students as they work on course problems (a portable microphone helps).
  • Ask one student a question and wait for the answer.
  • Place a suggestion box in the rear of the room and encourage students to make written comments every time the class meets.
  • Use task groups to accomplish specific objectives.
  • Grade quizzes and exercises in class as a learning tool.
  • Give students plenty of opportunity for practice before a major test.
  • Give a test early in the semester and return it graded in the next class meeting.
  • Have students write questions on index cards to be collected and answered the next class period.
  • Make collaborate assignments for several students to work on together.
  • Assign written paraphrases and summaries of difficult reading.
  • Give students a take-home problem relating to the day’s lecture.
  • Encourage students to bring current news items to class which relate to the subject matter, and post these on a bulletin board nearby.
Updated 1.24.2008