Active Learning Examples

Active learning can take many forms. We are sure you are using some of these already but here we have compiled a longer list of active learning examples to hopefully help you expand your toolkit.

If you need information on what is active learning, why it works so well, some strategies for applying active learning then we recommend you check out our Complete Guide to Active Learning in 2019.

The activities vary in complexity so we begin with a look at this aspect.

Complexity Spectrum

The following image relates active learning activities compared to their complexity. This complexity is designed to engage students, not just be complex for the sake of complexity. Usually, the complexity also leads to a larger amount of class time usage.

Complexity of Active Learning Activities

Active Learning Activities

Listed below are some active learning examples that are great to incorporate into the classroom:

Activity Description


This is great for reviewing before a test. Favorites include: Jeopardy (online sources allow you to create boards for free), ‘Pick a question out of a bag’, and others…

Clarification Pauses:  

This is a simple technique ensures students understand an important concept or term. This allows for the information to ‘sink in’ and also gives time to the student to ask questions. This is easy to incorporate and does not take up much class time.

Interactive Lectures:  

Having students interact with something discussed in lecture. For example in Geography or Earth Science may include rocks and minerals. As the teacher describes different rocks and minerals the students are holding them.  

Role Playing:  

Students act out different scenarios. This can demonstrate molecules, animals or chemical reactions  

Inquiry Learning:  

A teacher poses a concept and students do research to uncover the answer. An example would be a research paper.


Have students attempt to ‘predict’ things you will cover in class. (Example: What do you think some possible benefits of this adaptation are?)  

Jigsaw Discussion:  

A complex topic is divided into many sub-topics or facets and assigned to a puzzle piece.  Each student then receives a piece of the puzzle.  The student must become an expert in the topic. Each student must teach the class about their specific topic.  As the students educate the class, the topic will be thoroughly addressed.  

Writing Activities:  

At appropriate times in the lecture, it may be a good idea to ask students to engage in some writing. They could: list topics covered or grapple with a particularly complex theme.  

Self Assessment:  

An ungraded quiz provides students with feedback on their understanding of the unit. (Example: How well do you understand this topic? What steps would you take to complete this problem?) These can even be anonymous!  

Experimental or Site visits:  

For most STEM teachers, using experiments its obvious, but site visits are not so obvious. Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering etc. teachers can easily put in place experiments. Some schools even require lab time in these courses. Site visits and field trips are also an exciting way to engage students at any age!  


Students debate two sides of an argument in class  

Group Evaluations:  

Have students evaluate other students for a group project or presentation  

Large/Small Group Discussion:  

These can help further thought on topics from class


Students will attack a problem or reflect on something from class. Then they will be paired up and discuss the problem together. Then they will come up with a synthesized answer to share with the class.  

Case Studies:  
Use real life examples to have students grapple with difficult topics  

Hands on Technology:  
This is especially useful for classrooms and labs with few resources. There are many online simulations to show tangible and intangible concepts. Some even have pre-made worksheets.  

Peer Evaluation:  

Students, on the day the assignment is due, will submit one copy to the teacher and another copy to a student in class. Students will then share their assessment of the others work.


Drafted by: Mackenzie Brandt ; Edited by Earl D’Souza

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