Session 5

One of the most important findings in educational research is that students learn best by doing. Asking students questions based on key concepts engages students’ interest and can result in increased understanding. Instructors also learn what concepts students find most confusing. This session discusses the reasons for interactive teaching and provides examples of questions and techniques that can be used or adapted for teaching.

1. In this session…

You will first read articles that will be discussed in the videos. Next, you will watch video lectures where you will be instructed to pause and engage in a variety of activities, as well as think about the questions posed.

The outline is provided to serve as a guide to the session and serve as a support for note taking.

Download Session 5 Outline [ PDF / DOC ]
Download Complete Session 5 Video [ ZIP, 323 MB, 540 p ]

2. Learning Objectives

After completing this session, the participant will be able to:

  • Apply relevant research on active learning to your teaching.
  • Discuss the impact of active learning exercises in the classroom and evaluate the time requirements for different active learning strategies.
  • Develop activities and/or techniques that will help students achieve the learning objectives in your course

3. Pre-Session Activity


  • Bloom, B. S. (1984). The 2 sigma problem: The search for methods of group instruction as effective as one-to-one tutoring. Educational Researcher13(6), 4–16.
  • Cooper, J. L., Robinson, P., & Ball, D. (2003). The interactive lecture: Reconciling group and active learning strategies with traditional instructional formats. Exchanges, the Online Journal of Teaching and Learning in the CSU1161. Retrieved from
  • Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., Adams, W. K., Wieman, C., Knight, J. K., Guild, N., & Su, T. T. (2009). Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions. Science323(5910), 122–124.

4. Session Introduction

Welcome to the final session on interactive teaching and active learning in our Best Practices for Teaching and Learning course! This session will discuss the benefits of one on-one teaching and active learning methods that can be incorporated into your own classroom. These active learning methods are grouped into 3 categories of activities based on duration: those that will take less than 2 minutes, those that will take 2 to 5 minutes, and 5 to 20 minutes of your class time.

5. Bloom’s 2-Sigma Effect

Benjamin Bloom’s research findings regarding instructional methods will be the focus of this part of the Best Practices for Teaching and Learning session.

6. Active Learning Methods

In this video segment, we will discuss how we can incorporate active learning methods as a means to incorporate the benefits of one-on-one teaching into a classroom setting.

6.1 Active Learning Methods: <2 Minutes

Let us discuss how we can incorporate active learning methods that take less than 2 minutes as a means to incorporate some of the benefits of one-on-one teaching into our teaching.

6.2 Active Learning Methods: 2-5 Minutes

Now let us go through several examples of brief active learning activities that will take between 2 and 5 minutes of class time.

Think About

How can you use the presented response system and ideas for implementing it or similar tools in your classrooms?

6.3 Active Learning Methods: 5-20 Minutes Activities

Now lets go through activities that will take longer to implement in class. They are either activities that contain long discussion or demonstration, or activities that include participation of the whole class.

Think About

During this video segment you were introduced to a number of example activities that could be used in a 5-20 minute block of time. Consider the use of these activities in your classroom and ideas for implementing them.

7. Interactive Activities

This part of the video will guide you through a few interactive activities to get you thinking about incorporating this interactive methods into your own classroom.


Select two activities on the Active Learning Strategies handout [ PDF / DOC ] and think about the following for each activity:

  1. How would you integrate the activity into a course in your discipline to facilitate a specific learning objective?
  2. What are the expected time requirements, both in class and in terms of preparation time?
  3. What are the potential benefits or pitfalls of the activities and how could you evaluate these?

Think About

What active learning strategies could you use to:

  1. Help students achieve one of your learning objectives?
  2. Provide you and your students with information on whether students have met the learning objective?
  3. Identify potential pros and cons of the activities?

8. Post-Session Activity


Describe how you will use specific interactive techniques to advance three of the learning objectives that you developed in the session titled Designing a Course and Constructing a Syllabus for a class you teach or would like to teach. Be sure to specify the details on how each activity will be incorporated into your course. Be sure to include the appropriate learning objective(s) that align with your interactive techniques.

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