Active Learning

1. Do you want to get students to work more actively during your contact moment (on campus/ online)

2. Do you want to gain a quicker insight into whether your students are up to date with the learning content?

3. Are you tired of performing a monologue and want to engage in more dialogue with the students?

4. Are you looking for ways to make students think along during your contact moment and stimulate deeper learning?

Then, in the EMVITET project, activation is for you! Read more about:

  • what activating means,

  • why you should activate,

  • how you can actively activate your students during your contact moment.


In the literature you will find many definitions and terms related to activation. Just think of activating teaching methods, student-centered education, teaching methods that stimulate deep learning and so on. Prince (2004) makes an attempt at a general definition:

Active learning is generally defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. In short, active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing. […] The core elements of active learning are student activity and engagement in the learning process. Active learning is often contrasted to the traditional lecture where students passively receive information form the instructor.” (Prince, 2004, p. 223)

He distinguishes two important core elements that enable you to regard a certain intervention as 'activating' during your contact moment:

1. You 'activate' students during the contact moment; this means that you try to provoke certain activities among your students.

2. You involve students in a meaningful way, by stimulating deep learning.


It is certainly not the case that you can only activate students by making larger changes. Even minor activities can be made to stimulate more activity and engagement which can lead to a significant increase in student learning (Knight & Wood, 2005).

In this padlet you will find various ways of organizing active learning in four learning contexts.

In the presentation below, explanations are given to illustrate how to increasing meaningful interactions in order to engage students in active learning

Download the presentation


- Students are not always eager to be activated. They are often accustomed to acting as consumers during lectures. Explain your expectations to students, explain why you do this and continue until they are used to the approach. In other words, teaching students’ effective ways to learn actively! In this website, you can download many practical tools (presentations, bookmarks, posters, etc.) in order to teach your students learning strategies to be active.

- Ensure that you activate students’ prior knowledge(PK): What is PK, Why and How 

- What do you do when teaching online ? Using strategies to promote online interaction for active learning

- Other general things that you should take into account when activating students

- Avoid cognitive overload: Keep in mind that students can only process a limited amount of new information / concepts per lesson.

- Focus on the core  and refer for deeper processing to tutorial material.

- 'How?' rather than 'What?': In the lecture, focus on how students should deal with the subject matter, rather than aiming for completeness.

- Use tight timing: If the pace in class is too slow, students will drop out mentally. Give them just enough time to come up with a reasoning or action plan, but not unnecessary too long time.

- Do not focus on the fastest or the slowest student, provide additional exercises (for the fast students) or extra support (for the slower students).

- Walk around during exercises and ask (anonymous) feedback from students, so that you can estimate the time a little better next time.

- Variety: Your lecture is quite a good mix of interpretation and orientation on the one hand (teaching)  and  activating teaching methods and assignments  on the other.

- Schedule teaching and action moments in advance. Keep in mind that many students' attention weakens after about 15 to 20 minutes. Therefore, alternate activities of about 20 minutes with each other.

- Communicate the structure of your lesson clearly. When students see the bigger picture, they can also place new elements in it more easily.

- Do not give up too quickly if you do not immediately achieve success. Actively teaching is a learning process. Collect feedback from peers or students and adjust your approach accordingly.

Talk to colleagues about work forms you try out - they may have helpful tips or reflections that optimize your approach.

Want to KNOW MORE?

- The Centre for Teaching Excellence van de University of Waterloo offers interessant materiaal: lecturing and presenting, alternatives for lecturing, adapting material for classroom delivery, active learning activities, activities for large classes.

- KUleuven guiding materials on teaching method that stimulate active learning

- You can find an inspiring overview of activating teaching methods on the University of Twente website.

- Find out 100 easy-to-implement activities that promote the engagement of online students in deep learning- Read this book

- On the website of Stanford University you will find under 'Speaking of Teaching' information on topics such as class discussion, active learning, the Socratic method, ...

- Utrecht University published the article 'Best practices for stimulating academic education', in which you can gain inspiration for the use of activating teaching methods in your lecture.

- On the McGill University website you will find a brief overview of various working methods.



  • Knight, J.K. & Wood, W.B. (2005). Teaching More by Lecturing Less. Cell Biology Education, 4, 298-310.

Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), pp. 223-231.
Ngày 01/08/2021 - 14:37:11

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