Center for Teaching and Learning

Active learning

Active learning requires students to participate in class, as opposed to sitting and listening quietly. Strategies include, but are not limited to, brief question-and-answer sessions, discussion integrated into the lecture, impromptu writing assignments, hands-on activities and experiential learning events. As you think of integrating active learning strategies into your course, consider ways to set clear expectations, design effective evaluation strategies and provide helpful feedback.

“Start classes with a puzzle to be solved or a mystery to be understood. Behind all of the window-dressing, this is what we are really doing when we create strong active learning modules.”

Ben Wiggins, Course Coordinator, Biology

Resources on writing to learn

Learn more

  • Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
  • Writing to Learn in All Fields, annotated bibliography, Office of the Chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Writing prompts and assignments


Additional resources

CIDR Teaching and Learning Bulletins

A collection of short papers on pertinent teaching and learning topics with practical suggestions and resources.  Search for a topic of interest here.

External links


  • Bronwell, C. C., & Elson, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. Washington, DC: School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University.
  • Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2003). Learning by doing. Chemical Engineering Education, 37(4), 282-309.