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Active Learning Techniques

COR 101 encourages instructors to use a variety of teaching methods in class and strongly encourages the use of active learning to enhance student learning.

Active learning encompasses a wide variety of activities to encourage higher level of student participation in their own learning. Instead of being passive recipients of knowledge, students are challenged to discover knowledge on their own and through interaction. The hope is that students are more invested and interested in their learning and that new (often unexpected) insight and knowledge emerge from higher levels of active learning.

Active learning often encourages students to interact, sharing and challenging each other’s perspectives. This social interaction can be a critical part of student’s reflection and development in COR 101. Use students as peer-teachers!

Ways to Encourage Active Learning:

-Share authority in the classroom; let students take the lead and make decisions; present yourself as a peer in the learning process
-Encourage direct student-to-student interaction through discussions, small groups, and activities
-Monitor your class looking for times they are more actively involved

While active learning is often considered ‘small group activities’, it’s really anything that engages students in their learning. Thus, a student writing an in-class journal or doing an activity on their own can be as active as a small group discussion.

-Get students doing something in class—whether that is talking, writing, speaking
-Experience is a great way to learn—encourage students to try things and be reflective on those experiences (e.g., students writing a reflection paper on their residence hall event)
-Cooperative and collaborative group work both in and out of class

Interactive lectures, discussions, in and out of class journaling, guest speakers, visits to campus offices, case studies, and role plays are just a few examples of the activities instructors have used in COR 101.

Active Learning Ideas:

-Discussions in class or small groups
-In-class reflection papers or "two minute papers" where students can take a moment to write a response
-Out of class assignments
-Class debates on topics
-Student presentations (of any length; informal or formal)
-Case studies or scenarios
-In class activities that help students share a goal (Web scavenger hunt, library searches)
-Get the students up to the board, using flipcharts, reporting about discussion
-Use concept maps and mind maps and have students draw explanations of how they view a concept or situation
-Use brief in class essays or journals to help start a discussion
-Informal or formal quizzes or personal assessments
-Handouts for discussions are a great way to engage visual and tactile learners


Tips to foster great discussions:

-Consider the physical layout of your class; can you arrange the tables or chairs so that students see each other?
-Think about where you are sitting or standing, your body language
-Turn questions back to the group instead of answering directly. See how the group can answer a question.
-Bring some topics, questions, or ideas to each discussion to generate discussion
-Allow students to think about ideas or questions first. Maybe have them jot down their own perspectives or answers before asking them to share thoughts.
-Use open ended questions (Instead of, "Did Jim do the right thing calling his RA?" you might ask, "What were Jim’s choices in this situation?" or "What would you have done in Jim’s situation?"
-Set and role model standards and ground rules for respectful discussions
-Have students discuss in smaller groups and then share with the entire class for give greater opportunity for individuals to share ideas.
-Use video clips, articles, campus events, case studies, and experiences to build discussions.