Active Learning

Active Learning involves an approach to instruction that focuses the responsibility of learning on the students and requires active cognitive processing (more than passively receiving information).  It can be “anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing” (Bonwell & Eison, 1991, p. 2). However, the thinking should move beyond recall of information. Active Learning should develop students’ skills, attitudes, and content knowledge (all three) as they engage in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, synthesis, design, and evaluation. Active Learning requires students to do the cognitive work by reading, writing, discussing, analyzing, and/or solving problems.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of Active Learning on faculty productivity, student performance and student learning. Well-designed and implemented courses that are predominately organized around Active Learning are distinctive and often perceived of value.

Active Learning Resources

Brame, C. 2016 (PDF) – Active learning. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [11-07-2018] from

Freeman et al. 2014 (PDF)Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. PNAS. 111:8410–8415.

Bonus reading: 

Streveler and Menekse, 2017 (PDF)Taking a Closer Look at Active Learning. JEE. 106:186–190

Case Studies

Many Mines faculty members are working hard to increase active learning in their course.  Click below to read a cases about different courses that are intentionally designed to promote active learning.