William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Glossary of Active Learning Teaching Strategies

Case Studies - Case studies are real world scenarios relating to the course content.  Students read the case study independently and then meet as a group in class to discuss their viewpoints on the situation and how they would apply the course content to the situation.

Concept designs (mapping) - Students create a graphic representation of how terms or concepts being covered in the course relate to each other.

Cumulative Brainstorming - A problem/concern/issue related to the topic is noted on the board and students have all class period (or during several class periods) to add ideas of how to handle the problem based on the information they are provided from lectures, readings and supplemental content.

Fishbowl discussion - The class is divided into groups.  One group is given a list of questions (relating to the course topic) to discuss while another group listens to the discussion and takes notes. Group roles are then switched.  This gives each group an opportunity to listen to the responses and develop a stronger understanding of the content.

Four corners - Students are asked to move to one of the four corners of the room based on their response to a questions or position on a topic.  Once students are located in the four corners, they are given additional questions to their response to answer and discuss.

Gallery walk - Student content is displayed around the room and students are asked to go around to each content display and complete a task or review the displayed materials.

Group Quizzing - Students are divided into small groups and given a set of exam or quiz questions.  Students work through the questions together utilizing their notes and textbooks. This concept works well as a review session before an exam.

Idea opinion lineup - Students form two lines (which face each other) based on their idea or opinion about a topic.  Each student is given an opportunity to make a statement about their position to a student in the other line.

Partial outlines - The instructor provides a partial outline of the topic being covered that day.  Students are asked to fill in any additional or missing details on the outline as the instructor is covering the material or the instructor may pause and allow time for students to reflect and add to the outline.

Peer instruction - Students teach another student about a given topic or how to go about solving a particular problem.

Polling - The instructor gauges students’ understanding of content by asking a question and allowing a short time period of time for responses.   Students hold up a visual indicator (ex.colored card/letter) or provide an electronic response (via iClickers) to the question.

Problem analysis - Students are given a problem and asked to outline the steps necessary to solve the problem to promote critical, deduction and logical order thinking.

Quick write strategies - Students reflect and write on their learning at the start or end of class. The writings can also include questions and comments about course content that they need additional clarification about.

Scenario Analysis - Students are given a scenario and they need to determine which course concepts would be most appropriate to apply to the situation and form an explanation as to why this would be the best option.

Sequence reconstruction - Students are provided with a list of steps that are not in sequence.  Students need to determine the correct sequence that the steps need to be completed in.

Small debates - Students are divided into small groups and given a topic to debate the pros and cons of before discussing the subject as a class.

Sticky note clustering - Students are asked to provide a short concise response to a question or topic on a sticky note.  The sticky notes are then placed around the main topic/question in a cluster on a wall or whiteboard for everyone to read.

Think-pair-share - Students share and compare their answers to a question with a person near them before the instructor addresses the larger class for responses.

Turn-n-talk - Students share their thoughts, ideas and positions on a topic with a student seated near them.  Often times the objective may be to convince the other person of their position based on supporting evidence.