Active Learning

Instructional techniques used to increase student engagement through activities that promote higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

2024 UNL Playposium

Higher education is rapidly evolving, and the incorporation of gamification and play in the college classroom has emerged as an exciting and effective approach to enhance student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes.

Reviewing and Comparing Lecture Notes

When students are given time to review and compare notes, students make significant learning gains by constructing context through collaboration.

Lecture Reaction

Lecture reaction is a strategy used to elicit deeper learning on a topic just covered in a lecture and is divided into four sections.

Backchannel Discussion

A backchannel discussion includes any conversation between students or between the students and instructor that are not the primary lecture.

Illustrative Quotations

Students are tasked with finding one or more quotes from a text or similar material that supports a specific claim about the reading.

Muddiest Point

Muddiest Point is a technique used to determine which topic is the most unclear to students at the end of a presentation or lecture. The students are usually given the prompt: “What aspect of the lecture material is still unclear or confusing?”.

Pause Principle

A simple method of making traditional lectures into more efficient learning opportunities by incorporating well timed pauses in the lecture.

Wait Time

Wait time is characterized by short pauses (10-30 seconds) when asking students to respond to questions or similar prompts given by the instructor.


Think-Pair-Share strategy allows students time to think about a topic, discuss their ideas with the person next to them, and share with the class.

Response technology (Clicker Questions)

Classroom response systems are designed to have students use specific devices to send responses to questions posed by the instructor during a lecture.

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations using PODS

Interactive lecture demonstrations incorporate student participation in the demonstration using the active learning technique PODS.

Interactive Lecture: Small Changes for Improved Engagement and Learning

Educational research has shown that students retain more course content when active learning techniques are correctly implemented in college courses.

Student participation is in the cards

An ingenious, low-tech approach to supporting verbal participation in large classes, Aaron Bronfman uses a card-based system to track participation.

Small Teaching Strategies

Small teaching strategies are little things that can have a big impact. University faculty present a variety of techniques they use in 5-minute speed sessions.

From lecture to active learning

Chad Brassil went from eight hours of class prep to recipient of the College Distinguished Teaching Award

Redesigning for large enrollment

Faced with an enrollment jumped from 30 to 95, Martha Mamo launched a redesign of her course.

Active learning strategies in Mathematics

The university math department has been working to radically redesign its first-year mathematics courses. Current efforts have yielded an 80% success rate.

Subbiah increases student engagement

Jeyam Subbiah increases student engagement with flipped course design, active learning strategies, and screen capture technology.

Active Learning

Information and techniques to include students in the learning process and increase students' attention and retention. (Knute Broady Collection)

Active Learning Techniques

Active Learning exists in three spheres: individual, group, or combination engagement.

Individual Activity Ideas

Get ideas for individual activities such as one-minute essays or using the muddiest point technique

Group Activity Ideas

Get ideas for how to get group activities started off

Additional Materials for Active Learning

TEDx Talks can be an excellent way to see how others make use of active learning techniques. 

Fresh Voices on Active Learning

The Fresh Voices sections of the Knute Broady Collection aim to highlight recent publications and the work of emerging scholars.

Active Learning Online: Leveraging Zoom Breakout Rooms for Peer Instruction

Think-Pair-Share is an active learning strategy providing students time and structure for thinking about a particular topic.

Active Learning Online: Post-lecture Quizzes

Use quizzes to bust the fluency illusion and give timely feedback.

Active Learning Online: Effective online communication - Muddiest Point

Use the "muddiest point" technique to gain insight to your students' learning and provide targeted instruction.

Active Learning Online: Peer Instruction using Group Exams

Use peer instruction to squeeze extra learning out of your exam by making students take it twice. Once on their own (90%), then again with a team (10%).