Active learning is a method of learning that involves more than just listening to a teacher talk about a topic. Active learning methods include hands-on activities, like experiments, group work, and discussions. This article will look at some active learning examples, its importance, and characteristics. 

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is defined as a teaching method that focuses on student participation in the classroom. It encourages students to be involved in their own learning, including group work, experiments, and discussions. 

Active learning helps students retain information, solve problems, and gain confidence in their abilities. In this teaching style, students are encouraged to take an active role in their education. 

This means that students are not just sitting and listening, they’re engaged in their education and taking part in their own learning process. When it comes to learning, we often think of the teacher as the source of knowledge and the student as the learner who receives that knowledge. 

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We see a similar pattern in our day-to-day lives: doctors tell us how to stay healthy, engineers show us how to build things, and chefs instruct us on how to make amazing food. However, active learning is a bit different. In active learning, students are given problem sets or other work where they can try out what they’ve learned in class. This helps students to put the concepts they’ve been taught into action, rather than just memorizing facts and equations which may not have any real-world application. 

This process allows students to become more actively involved with their education, rather than just passively letting information wash over them.

Also, active learning can be used in any subject. For example, in English class, the students could write an essay about what they would do if they were president for a day. In math class, the students could create posters that explain how to solve a difficult math problem.

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What is an Active Classroom?

An active classroom is where the students are doing more than just listening to the teacher but where the teacher is teaching and taking questions and the students are participating in some way.

Active learning can be as simple as asking your students to answer a question, or it can be as complicated as teaching them to teach each other. Either way, there’s some kind of stimulus-response process going on. 

In an active learning classroom, the students don’t just sit there like lumps of clay waiting for the teacher to mold them into something new. They’re actually doing things and engaging actively with their learning environment.

Importance of Active Learning

Traditionally, education has been about absorbing information and knowledge, but active learning is about engaging in an activity that helps you learn.

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There are a few reasons why this is important:

  • When students act on their knowledge, it becomes easier for them to understand it and move beyond rote memorization into a deeper understanding that will improve retention and recall.
  • Active learning promotes creativity and problem-solving skills that will serve the students well later in their careers and lives.
  • Active learning can help students who struggle with traditional methods of instruction discover new ways to approach difficult concepts or problems.

For example, in an active learning environment, students might play a game that teaches them multiplication instead of memorizing multiplication tables. An instructor might tell students to write a short story or build a model car instead of just lecturing them on the material they’re expected to learn.

This means that active learning can help you be more effective in your classes, so you’ll get better grades and have an easier time understanding the material. It can also help you be more effective at work since it will increase your ability to learn new skills and understand new concepts.

Active learning requires a bit more time and preparation from both teachers and students, but the payoff is well worth it. Research has shown that retention rates are significantly higher for students who learn using active learning methods.

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What are the Characteristics of Active Learning?

Active learning is not exactly a new concept. However, in the past few decades, it has gained newfound popularity. Here are some of the characteristics of active learning:

In its most basic sense, active learning is an approach to education that requires an active rather than passive process on the part of the student. In other words, students are not just listening to lectures; they are also involved in doing something as part of their learning experience.

  • Active learning strategies include things like discussion, collaboration, and hands-on activities. In many cases, it also requires students to apply knowledge through problem solving or experimentation.
  • The active learning approach to education is student-centered. It puts the student in control of their own education.
  • Active learning can happen in any setting, including classrooms, seminars, informal groups, or even on your own.

What are the Principles of Active Learning?

Active learning helps students engage with the material, meaning they are more likely to remember it and learn from it.

Some principles of active learning include:

  • Start with a broad question before focusing on specific ones
  • Use worksheets/handouts for class assignments
  • Use real-world examples and make sure your students understand when they’re doing well and when they need improvement.

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What are the 5 Types of Active Learning?

There are five types of active learning:

  • Game-based Learning: Students play games that support the content being learned, either together or individually. Games can focus on individual student performance or group collaboration. They can be used for all different ages and subject areas! Games are great because they create an environment that encourages trial and error while making learning fun, so it doesn’t feel like work.
  • Problem-based learning: This is a method where students are given a problem to solve. They must use their critical thinking skills to determine how to solve the problem and then they must go through the process of solving it. The instructor acts as a facilitator in this type of active classroom. This method addresses the way knowledge is created and applied in real life, which helps students understand how their new skills can be used in practice.
  • Collaborative learning: This is a technique where groups of students work together towards a common goal. Collaborative learning allows students to learn from each other, use different perspectives to find solutions, and encourages creativity and teamwork.
  • Service-learning: is an active teaching method where students are asked to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in class outside of class. Students learn about community issues by working with their local community on real-world problems. This type of active classroom technique helps students become engaged citizens within their communities and builds critical thinking skills.
  • Discussion-based learning: is a teaching method where instructors facilitate discussions around course content with their students. In these types of classrooms, instructors ask questions that encourage critical thinking amongst their students rather than using lectures as a way to teach them information about the subject.

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What are Some Active Learning Techniques?

Active learning techniques can include things like brainstorming, discussion, problem-solving, and hands-on experiences. Some active learning techniques include:

  1. Peer Instruction: Students engage with each other in small groups (about three or four people) to discuss the content and work through problems together
  2. The Jigsaw Method: Students break up into groups of three or four to work on a task related to the lesson content. Each student within a group is responsible for completing one part of the task, so everyone has to be engaged with the material. Once each student has completed their part of the task, they get back together with their group and share what they learned.
  3. Brainstorming: Using this technique, teachers will give students a topic and ask them to brainstorm all the ideas that come to mind. The ideas should be written down on a board or piece of paper for everyone to see. Some teachers will write down a prompt first and ask students how they would respond, or ask them to write down their own response before asking for the class’s responses. This technique allows students to build off each other’s ideas and think critically about the topic at hand.
  4. Group projects: Group projects allow students to work together while they explore new material or concepts. Depending on what the teacher wants them to learn, they may be tasked with coming up with a project that incorporates different subjects in order to demonstrate their understanding of both, or they may be given one specific

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What are Some Active Learning Activities for the Classroom

Technique #1: Give One-Get One: Students are given a prompt (either verbal or written) and asked to write down one word or concept that comes to mind—and then trade it with a partner. They must then give their partner another word or concept regarding the same prompt.

Technique #2: Ticket out the Door: Students are given a prompt (either verbal or written) and asked to write down a short answer to the question, which they submit as they leave class.

Technique #3: Four Corners: This is a game similar to Musical Chairs, except that each corner of the room represents an answer option to a question. Students stand in the corner that represents their selected answer and then discuss why they chose that corner with their fellow students who have also chosen that corner.

Technique #4: 3-2-1: Students are given a prompt (either verbal or written) and asked to write down three things they learned from class, two questions they have regarding what they learned, and one thing that surprised them during class. They can share these with their classmates if so desired.

Technique #5: Think-Pair-Share: Students think individually about a topic/question, then pair up with someone else in their group and share what they thought then work together with another student to solve it.

Technique #6: Note-Taking Pairs: Students pair up during lectures in order to take notes for each other and fill in gaps in their notes. One student will take notes on half of the material covered during the class, while the other student takes notes on the other half of the material. At the end of class, they will compare notes to see where there were similarities and differences and discuss why this could be.

Technique #7: Say Something: When presenting material to your class, call on different students to share their thoughts on what you’re teaching as you go along. If a student is having trouble coming up with something to say, you can start by asking questions like “What do you think?” or “Can you give an example of that?”

Technique #8: The Fish Bowl: This activity is ideal for large groups (25+ students) who are discussing a particular topic. The group is divided into two parts: an inner circle and an outer circle. The outer circle is given the topic, and members of the group have 3 minutes to discuss the topic amongst themselves. During that time, the inner circle listens but doesn’t contribute to the conversation. At the end of 3 minutes, 2 people from the outer circle switch places with 2 people from the inner circle, and those 4 people discuss their thoughts on the topic for 3 minutes. This continues until everyone in both circles has had a chance to participate in the conversation.

Technique #9: Visual Lists: This activity is ideal for groups of all sizes and can be used any time you want students to brainstorm ideas on a specific topic or theme. Visual lists involve students creating a list using pictures, images, or symbols. For example, you could ask students to create a list of what they would need to travel through space. They might use pictures of a rocket ship, food, and water, or even an alien. The more creative the better.

Technique #10: Structured Problem Solving: Structured problem solving is another form of active learning that involves students working together to solve a problem. This activity can be used for complex problems (what would happen if you were able to travel through time?) or simple ones (how many ways can you get from point A to point B?). You can give your students guidance, such as telling them they should use only their hands and feet or they should not speak while working on their problem. Students with autism may benefit from this type of activity because it helps them practice social skills while still being engaged in the lesson.

Other Examples of Active Learning

Other Examples of active learning include group work, discussion boards, student-led presentations, role-playing games and simulations.

  1. Group work: Break students into small groups and have them work together to answer a question or solve a problem. This allows students to learn from each other and encourages students who may be less vocal in larger group settings. These can be done in person or online.
  2. Discussion boards: If you’re teaching an online class, you can use discussion boards in place of group work by having students discuss questions or problems online.
  3. Student-led presentations: Have your students take turns presenting material to their peers. This takes some of the pressure off of you as the teacher and helps students become more familiar with the material by putting it into their own words for their fellow classmates.
  4. Role-playing games and simulations: Students can learn about historical events by acting out roles from those events. They can also experiment with things like running businesses or making policy decisions in simulated environments.

Advantages of Active Learning

  • Students are more likely to remember what they have learned. Studies have shown that students retain information better when they use active learning techniques.
  • It’s fun for students. Active learning increases student engagement and motivation in the classroom. Students who use active learning techniques are more excited about their studies and want to spend more time on them.
  • It helps students work together as a team
  • It can help students understand abstract concepts, and it lets students come up with creative solutions to problems.

Active Learning Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming; more difficult to “cover” content as compared to traditional lecturing methods.
  • It is expensive: the need for instructor training, the cost of materials, and potential challenges with implementation.
  • Creating projects can be difficult for some students (like those who are shy or have trouble working in groups).


Active learning is a powerful and transformative teaching strategy that encourages students to take an active role in their education.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 12 min read


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