Teaching Tools

DictionaryActive learning holds the potential to be a rewarding approach that can elevate student understanding and connection to course material. However, transforming a class is a very involved undertaking. It requires analyzing the anticipated learning outcomes, designing lesson plans that connect activities to that goal, and rethinking some of the components of a class that may no longer work in an active environment. This section seeks to help faculty tackle this challenge by providing resources that can help design and improve your use of active learning. The pages in this section are based on practices used and experiences shared at Rutgers and in the larger education community. The ideas chronicled within are often shaped by discussion in Active Learning Community workshops and continue to grow based on feedback from Community members. Share your ideas for a topic or an example by contacting us.

  • Activities: This page documents several of the most popular in-class active learning activities used at Rutgers and in Higher Education. Along with descriptions for activities, the page also includes examples and information for further reading. Start here to get an idea of what active learning actually looks like in the classroom and to see example that you can modify to fit your class.
  • Common Challenges:  Proper course design and planning are key to successful use of active learning, but there are still challenges to active learning that you may not anticipate until you try it out in a classroom. We've collected the common hurdles faculty experience.
  • Forming Groups:  Whether group activities succeed can often be a matter of how students were matched up in the first place. This list summaries various ways that you divide your class for collaborative work. We offer creative ways that you can pair students, divide the class in half, form groups of varying sizes, and even rotate groups.
  • Interactive Lecture Strategies: Active learning does not have to occur in an active learning classroom. At the same time, utilizing active learning strategies does not mean that the whole class must be active. Instead, lecture and large classes can interject opportunities for interaction as an opportunity for reflection, knowledge checks, engagement, and collaboration. 
  • Preparing Students for Group Work: Prepping students for effective group work requires explain what group work entails and why it is being used. Successful use of group involves preparing students mentally to work together and providing an opportunity for them to gain comfort interacting.
  • Student Assessment: This section looks at how common modes of assessment like quizzes, exams, polling, and projects can be utilized in an active learning class. As the teaching methods change, traditional approaches to assessment may no longer match the learning that occurs. As a result, these grading measurement require a rethink.

You can continue your online research by becoming a member of the SCALE-UP community, with maintains an online repository of resources for active learning. For more help designing your course, consider working with the Teaching and Learning with Technology team.