What is Active Learning?

Active learning at its most basic definition, is an instructional practice that requires students to engage with the content in more than a passive, receptive way. Students think about, discuss, reflect on their learning to construct knowledge for themselves. As they engage in different forms of meaning-making individually, in pairs or in groups, students not only retain information, but transform content and incorporate it their knowledge construct.  In addition to the many examples provided by the University of Minnesota and Strategies to Support Active Collab Learning provided by McGill University, SPU faculty have adapted active learning strategies in the classrooms.

SPU Examples

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMGamification can mean turning an entire course into an elaborate game, with experiencepoints, leader boards and more. An entire course doesn't have to be gamified, small elements can be modified to encourage friendly competition, strategy and fun in the classroom.  Learn Assistant Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Raedene Copeland uses Quiz Bowls to help students view for exams.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMApril Morgenroth, Assistant Professor of Nursing conducts  Case Studies in her nursing courses. Case studies use real life situations to help students build critical thinking skills.


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMAssistant Professor of Communication and Journalism Peg Achterman demonstrates how she uses Digital Story Telling in her courses (coming soon)


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMRobin Henrickson, Assistant Professor of Education uses  Educational Blogs to help students reflect on their learning.



Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMOwen Salleee Ed.D. enables students to connect theory to practice through the use of Service Learning.



Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMAssistant Professor and Director of Educational Technology Rolin Moe uses Personal Learning Networks to help students engage content experts outside the classroom (coming soon)


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMConducting Research with Students is something Associate Professor of Biology, Derek Wood does at an expert level (he has won awards for his work). Learn how he advances his scholarship and helps students envision themselves as scientists through research (coming soon)


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.51 AMGroup Work can be an integral part of active learning, but it is important to structure group work so that students can achieve success. The Journal of Small Group Research for guiding groups through "norming", "storming" and on to "performing.