Exploring the literature about active learning - especially when contextualized within the construct of how learning works - reveals a vast amount of information. Clearly, active learning isn't just a throwback from the 90's when I first experimented with active teaching strategies in my large enrollment, non-majors biology course. If you are looking for ideas on what to do in your classes to make them more active then you can check out the books below or simply type active learning strategies into your favorite search engine. There are literally thousands of ideas out there. If, however, you want strategies that work, well that is a bit more challenging. There are a number of variables influencing pedagogical success - including class size, experience of the instructor, attitudes of the student, and course learning outcomes. That being said, there are some papers that explore the efficacy of select active learning strategies (see below) but more often researchers are exploring the impact of courses that utilize any form of active learning on student attitudes or learning. If you really want to make sure active learning counts - for you and your students - I encourage you to delve into the cognitive learning theories - summarized in the two online resources I provide. These authors synthesize results from studies on how learning works into ways these results can best inform how you teach, most notably, how you implement active learning strategies to support the kind of learning you want your students to achieve.
Carol A. Hurney, Director Colby CTL (Fall 2017)