Getting Started with Active Learning

The One Minute Response Paper

A few minutes before the end of class, pose a question (either specific or open-ended), and give one question (or perhaps two) to which students can respond.

  • What was the main point(s) of today’s class material?
  • What would help make this material clearer to you?
  • Reflecting on group/partner breakout session, what did you find to be most helpful?

Just in Time Response Paper

Students submit response papers immediately prior to attending class with the goal of increased preparedness for discussion. The instructor scans the papers prior to class to capture students’ main points, and uses these themes to guide class discussion or activity.

Snowball Discussion

Working in pairs, students respond to a discussion question. After they each share their idea (1 minute each?), the pair joins another pair. The sharing continues among the four. The four then join with another four to be a group of 8; and so on, until the entire class is in one large discussion.

The Moving Question

Form a circle. Using a talking stick, ball, or other object, the instructor starts by holding the object and asking a question of one student, passing the object as well as the question. Then that student answers the question and becomes responsible to pass on the question/object.

Peer Feedback

Each student takes a partner's work (a written assignment, course notes) and provides critical feedback in a constructive way, standardizes or assesses the arguments, corrects mistakes in problem-solving or grammar, offers suggestions for clarity, etc.

Peer Interview

Each student interviews a partner about the assigned reading, lecture or video. Gain each other’s reactions and understanding of the material.

Peer Instruction using Peer Debate

Show four possible answers, one correct, and the rest the most popular misconceptions. Poll the class. Find someone with a different answer and convince that person you are right. After peer discussion, re-poll the class, and follow-up with more explanation.


Pose an open-ended question. Each student takes a min or two to think about and write a response, and then the pair gets together and discusses the responses. Finally, the instructor calls on students to share the pair’s responses.

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