15 Active Learning Activities to Strengthen Your Next College Class (2023)

The evidence continues to mount: Higher education students engage more, learn more, and achieve more with active learning. At another test point, ameta-analysisofAnnals of the National Academy of Sciencesfound that students' test scores improved by 6% when active learning approaches were used. And students in traditional classes were 1.5 times more likely to fail than those who used interactive methods.

During uncertain times like these, it can seem easier to stick with the familiar. But even if your classes have moved partially or completely online, that doesn't mean you're limited to lectures. Even taking 5-10 minutes to move from knowledge ingestion to engagement can make a difference.

Ready to switch to a different way of teaching but need some ideas to get started? Or maybe you've been teaching your courses this way for years, but you want ideas that will work for the new reality. Whether your classes are face-to-face, online, or in between, here are 15 active learning activities to try with your students this semester.

1. Tweezers-pairs-repairs

in this twistthink to share, pose an open-ended question to your class and ask students to find their best answer. Then bring the students together and ask them to agree on an answer. Put two pairs together and the foursome must do the same. Continue until half of the group is face to face with the other half. If your students are online, the breakout rooms in your conferencing software allow you to do the same virtually.See how it works on Zoom.

2. Improvisation games

If your classroom is museum-quiet, no matter how hard you try to liven things up, try some low-risk (read: non-embarrassing) improv activities. In itthree things in common play, couples discover the most unexpected things they share (this can also be done online in the themed rooms). Or challenge your students to count to 20 as a group with one person saying each number, but no one is given a number, and if two people speak at the same time, everyone starts over at 1. (If some students are in the room and some remotes, you will need full coverage classroom audio for this to work.See how Nureva audio can help.)

(Video) Active Learning Ideas for Large Classes

3. Brainstorming

You've probably tried brainstorming before, but have you triedbrain writing? In this approach, students are given time to present their own ideas individually before sharing them out loud or posting them to an online whiteboard or other shared platform. Building a space for individual reflection leads to better ideas and less groupthink.

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4. Puzzles

Help students develop responsibility by teaching each other. Start by dividing them into “home groups” (4 or 5 people works well). Again, themed rooms on Zoom or Google Meet make it simple, even if everyone is remote. Assign each person in the group a different topic to explore – they will regroup to work with all the students in the other groups who are exploring the same idea. After mastering the concept, the students return to the initial group and everyone shares new knowledge.

5. Concept maps

collaborative concept mappingit's a great way for students to break away from their individual perspectives. Groups can do this to review past work or help brainstorm ideas for projects and assignments. In pre-COVID times, you may have covered your classroom walls with sticky notes and graph paper; there are now many online tools that make it easy to map connections between ideas.

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6. The One Minute Newspaper

How much could you explain in one minute? At the end of class, set a timer and ask students to record the most revealing revelation or the most important question. This activity allows students to reflect on their learning and develop writing skills; Plus, you'll have a window into their understandings and misunderstandings. Are herebut quicklycan use for students to write.

(Video) Classroom Activities for Teaching

7. Real-time reactions

When students are watching a video, mini-lecture, or another student's presentation, ask them to share their reactions in real time. This helps students spot trends and consider new points of view. You can set a hashtag to allowtweeting the liveor use the chat feature in your conferencing software.

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8. Chain of notes

Write several questions on pieces of paper and pass each one to a student. The first student adds an answer (use a timer to make things go fast), then turns the page to collect more answers. Several contributions help build a fuller understanding. A digital alternative involves the use of shared documents that multiple students are invited to edit. Your class can then review the responses and identify patterns and missing pieces.

9. Alignment of ideas

Choose a question that has a variety of answers and ask students where they are, literally. If you are not socially distancing, ask them to come to the front of the room and line up based on where they are on the response spectrum. In a co-ed or physically distanced classroom, have them stand on a virtual number line.

10. Mystery Date

Assess how well students can apply their understanding of a problem or theoretical position. After they've explored a topic, show them a quote about it that they haven't seen before. Your task is to discover the point of view of the person behind the quote and justify it to the class. Students can discuss this question in small groups before beginning a whole class discussion.

11. Quick brainstorming

Have students circulate around your space or topic rooms on Zoom or Google Meet, sharing information on a topic or your presentation for an upcoming project. As they present their learnings over and over again in various “dating is fast”, Students' presentation skills and perspectives will grow.

(Video) How to Study Effectively for School or College [Top 6 Science-Based Study Skills]

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12. Peer review

The peer review process is as old as academia, and it's never too early to start. Have students exchange drafts of their essays, proposals, or lab reports, and then ask each other questions and comments. Make sure you are clear about what the objectives are (using rubrics helps). For example, students can identify compelling arguments, unanswered questions, and flaws in logic.

13. Question

Have you ever played Jeopardy? So are you ready tointerrogation. It's like a standard class discussion, but only questions are allowed (students yell "Statement!" if someone makes a mistake). If you play this game at the beginning of the course, the questions can help shape your course. If you have students in the room and you are calling remotely, make sure the remote students have the same airtime and that your audio system is picking up the students' voices clearly.

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14. Sketches

Instead of taking traditional class notes, try to have your studentsdraw a picturerepresenting what was learned in class. Remember, it's not about the quality of the art, it's about how the drawing makes students visualize their understanding and look at their learning from a different perspective.

15. Empathy mapping

Take a page from the designer's manual and have students explore deeper by taking a perspective. It's deceptively simple: write down what a personsay, think, do and feel. The ability to slow down and immerse yourself in another point of view is valuable. In design thinking, empathy maps help designers create better products for users. But this process can be just as valuable for analyzing literary characters, historical figures, or political positions.

(Video) Teaching Strategies - Gaining Children's Attention

Checklist: 8 Audio Essentials for HyFlex and Blended Learning

Do your higher education audio systems support active learning? In a hybrid classroom, students need to be able to easily hear each other no matter where they are. Instructors should be able to change the layout of the room for different activities as often as they like. See what else is on our list of audio essentials - download your checklist today (no email address required).

15 Active Learning Activities to Strengthen Your Next College Class (6)

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated.

15 Active Learning Activities to Strengthen Your Next College Class (7)

Subjects:Higher educationactive learninghybrid learningLearning activities

(Video) After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd | TEDxVancouver

Posted on April 2, 2020


What are the 5 types of active learning? ›

5 Types of Active Learning and How They're Beneficial
  • Take Notes.
  • Write About It.
  • Teach Someone Else.
  • Move Around.
  • Take Breaks.
  • Learning for Life.
Nov 8, 2021

What are active learning activities? ›

Active learning methods ask students to engage in their learning by thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating. In class, students practice skills, solve problems, struggle with complex questions, make decisions, propose solutions, and explain ideas in their own words through writing and discussion.

What is an example of active learning? ›

To be sure, there are many examples of classroom tasks that might be classified as “active learning.” Some of the most common examples include think-pair-share exercises, jigsaw discussions, and even simply pausing for clarification during a lecture.

What are the 4 learning activities? ›

What are the four learning styles? The four core learning styles in the VARK model include visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.

What are the 10 principles of active learning? ›

10 Principles We've Learned About Learning
  • Learning is developmental. ...
  • Individuals learn differently. ...
  • People learn what is personally meaningful to them. ...
  • New knowledge is built on current knowledge. ...
  • Learning occurs through social interaction. ...
  • People learn when they accept challenging but achievable goals.
Sep 22, 2014

What are the 12 types of learning? ›

Understanding the 12 Ways of Learning:

They include visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, sequential, simultaneous, reflective/logical, verbal, interactive, direct experience, indirect experience, and rhythmic/melodic.

What class activity helps you learn the most? ›

10 Classroom Activities for Better Learning Experiences
  • Ice Breakers. Ice Breakers is an introduction game that helps students become familiar with each other. ...
  • Debate. ...
  • Quiz. ...
  • Role play. ...
  • Student presentations. ...
  • The Fish Bowl. ...
  • Students as Teachers. ...
  • Case study.
Nov 11, 2014

Why is active learning important for students? ›

Active learning help students to become more determined when solving problems. Teachers get students to set their own goals and work towards them. Students would understand that it is perfectly okay to fail. By learning from their past mistakes, they can work harder and strive to perform better next time.

How can I be active in class? ›

Gamification: This is the best way to keep the kids active in the classroom and gain their interest for learning. Try some engaging classroom games that help to learn the subjects in an interesting way. Include a variety of games in different classes to satisfy the interests of all student groups.

What are 3 examples of learning? ›

Learning type 1: auditive learning (“by listening and speaking“), Learning type 2: visual learning (“through the eyes, by watching”), • Learning type 3: haptic learning (“by touching and feeling”), • Learning type 4: learning through the intellect.

What is student active learning? ›

Active learning is an approach to instruction that involves actively engaging students with the course material through discussions, problem solving, case studies, role plays and other methods.

What types of activities will motivate students? ›

7 Motivational Activities for Students
  • #1 Brain Breaks. ...
  • #2 Games (as an Academic and Motivational Activity) ...
  • #3 Chunking. ...
  • #4 Use Personal Project Time as a Motivational Activity. ...
  • #5 Understanding Checks. ...
  • #6 Experiential/ Learning. ...
  • #7 Project-Based Learning.
Aug 31, 2020

What are the three types of educational activities or learning? ›

The Three (3) Domains of Learning – Cognitive; Affective; And Psychomotor (Caps) – It's Application in Teaching and Learning.

What is the use of 14 learning principles? ›

The principles are designed to deal with learners holistically in the relation to real learning contexts. These 14 principles are classified into four categories: cognitive and metacognitive, motivational and affective, developmental and social, and individual differences influencing learners and learning.

What are 14 learning principle? ›

The 14 Learner-Centered Psychological Principles are categorized as follows: (1) cognitive and metacognitive factors; (2) motivational and affective; (3) developmental and social; and (4) individual difference factors. All these principles influence the teaching and learning process (APA, 1997).

What are the 10 types of e learning? ›

  • Computer Managed Learning (CML) ...
  • Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) ...
  • Synchronous Online Learning. ...
  • Asynchronous Online Learning. ...
  • Fixed E-Learning. ...
  • Adaptive E-Learning. ...
  • Linear E-Learning. ...
  • Interactive Online Learning.
Jan 11, 2023

How can I make my class more interactive? ›

8 Ways To Make Online Classes More Interactive
  1. Incorporate Active Learning.
  2. Combine different media types into engaging learning scenarios.
  3. Try running a cohort-based course.
  4. Incorporate live lessons.
  5. Use Microlearning.
  6. Use storytelling methods of teaching.
  7. Use Gamification.
  8. Pause for questions and answer live chats.
Sep 8, 2021

What active learning techniques would work best in your classroom? ›

12 examples of active learning techniques you can start using today
  • Think pair share. Think pair share is a great learning strategy to develop thinking skills and engage in group work. ...
  • One sentence summary. ...
  • Role play. ...
  • Just in time teaching. ...
  • The muddiest point. ...
  • Three-step interviews. ...
  • Game-based learning. ...
  • Minute paper.
Jun 16, 2021

What is the biggest goal of active learning? ›

Active learning pulls students out of their comfort zone by creating an environment where risk taking is encouraged. As they get more comfortable sharing their thoughts, defending their conclusions and building on each other's ideas, they'll gain confidence and self-possession.

How do you use active learning? ›

Techniques for active learning
  1. write down what you already know.
  2. ask questions as you read.
  3. make notes of the main points in your own words.
  4. summarise what you read.
  5. explain what you have learned to someone else.
  6. complete all your course activities, not just the reading.

What are examples of active participation? ›

1.1 Examples of active participation in learning
  • give students the opportunity to talk.
  • listen to students.
  • encourage students to ask questions.
  • use a variety of different approaches to learning in their teaching.
  • link new ideas to students' experiences and lives.

How do you become active and energetic in class? ›

How to Get Energy for Class
  1. Sleep routine. Our bodies operate more efficiently when they're conditioned to a routine. ...
  2. Eat for energy. We all know food fuels the mind. ...
  3. Drink plenty of water. Your vehicle won't run without fuel, but it's really not going to get too far without the oil. ...
  4. Vitamin B12.
Apr 3, 2019

What are 5 ways to make learning easier? ›

5 Ways to Make Learning Fun
  • Offer choices. Kids go through much of their daily routine without a lot of choices, both at home and at school. ...
  • Make it a game. ...
  • Tailor your lessons to your students. ...
  • Make learning practical. ...
  • Pay attention to students' interests.
Oct 25, 2021

What are your top 3 types of learning? ›

The three basic types of learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To learn, we depend on our senses to process the information around us. Most people tend to use one of their senses more than the others.

What are the six types of learning? ›

The above infographic provides information on six different types of learning. These include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social, solitary, and verbal.

How do students learn best? ›

Students learn by connecting new knowledge with knowledge and concepts that they already know, most effectively in active social classrooms where they negotiate understanding through interaction and varied approaches.

What is the best way to learning? ›

Top 10 best study tips
  1. Be consistent. If you try to cram, you'll set yourself up for failure. ...
  2. Sleep properly. ...
  3. Try the Pomodoro method. ...
  4. Create the right environment. ...
  5. Create flashcards. ...
  6. Break everything down. ...
  7. Teach other people. ...
  8. Get some exercise.
Apr 7, 2022

Do examples help learning? ›

Real examples provide concrete applications to knowledge and skills learned in the classroom as they relate to students themselves and society. Real examples also encourage students to be aware of the choices they make and how they fit into a greater societal context.

What are the two types of active learning? ›

Learning activity according to Mayer (2009) consists of two parts: active cognitively and active behaviorally. The combination of both will affect the emergence of meaningful learning.

What are the 10 ways to motivate a student? ›

10 Ways to Motivate Students Outside the Classroom
  • Accentuate the positive. ...
  • Set expectations and consequences. ...
  • Introduce competition. ...
  • Introduce collaboration. ...
  • Connect to their world. ...
  • Plug into technology. ...
  • Get parents involved. ...
  • Get students involved.

What are the main types of students learning activity? ›

  • Content Focus.
  • Interactivity Focus.
  • Critical Thinking.
  • Production.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Reflection.

What are some examples of activities that integrate the four skills? ›

What are some examples of activities that integrate the four skills? Two activities that make use of all four skills in tandem are Self-introduction and Reading and Retell.

What were the different learners activities in online class? ›

List of online classroom games
  • Digital Scavenger Hunt. Digital Scavenger Hunt is a game where the teacher compiles a list of items and activities that students complete by a given time. ...
  • Virtual Pictionary. ...
  • Virtual Trivia. ...
  • Virtual Musical Chairs. ...
  • Ambassadors. ...
  • Summer Book Club. ...
  • Geography Puzzles. ...
  • Virtual Game Show.
Nov 30, 2022

What are teaching activity methods? ›

Activity based teaching is a method adopted by a teacher to emphasize his or her technique of teaching through action in which the learners take interest comprehensively and realize effective learning practices. It is the procedure in which the child is effectively included in taking interest rationally and physically.

What are the different types of active learning? ›

Other examples of active learning techniques include role-playing, case studies, group projects, think-pair-share, peer teaching, debates, Just-in-Time Teaching, and short demonstrations followed by class discussion.

What are 3 main types of learning? ›

There are three primary types of learning styles, as defined by teacher Neil Fleming: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most people learn best through one or two of these methods, but there are ways to use all three learning styles to your advantage.

What is the best active learning strategy? ›

A 2014 study concluded that breaking a lecture into brief pauses can increase student attention and learning outcomes. The pause procedure, the study determined, is “a good active learning strategy which helps students review their notes, reflect on them, discuss and explain the key ideas with their partners.”

How can I be more active in class? ›

6 Ways to Stay Engaged in Class
  1. First, get your mind right. Much of how we perform any task starts with how we set up our mentality. ...
  2. Minimize distractions. Choosing to sit in the front of the class will help in a few ways. ...
  3. Optimize your note-taking skills. ...
  4. Be active. ...
  5. Talk to your teachers. ...
  6. Be prepared.
May 12, 2017


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