When instructors use a variety of instructional strategies integrated with carefully selected technology tools, students can become more engaged in the learning process. This knowledge base highlights a variety of topics, strategies and digital tools commonly used to promote student learning across a variety of disciplines. Select a category to find information for specific pedagogical topics, including a selection of recommended digital tools and additional related resources. Click on the appropriate icon to take you to a specific section or simply scroll down to read through each section.
Active learning includes any type of instructional strategy that goes beyond the traditional lecture and requiring students to memorize information. Active learning puts an emphasis on developing the students’ conceptual understanding by engaging students in activities that promote higher-order thinking, such as discussing, debating, writing, and creating. There are no limitations to active learning, as activities can take place in face-to-face or online classrooms and be completed in large or small groups or individually.
Student Response Systems
Student Response Systems (SRS) are tools that can collect real-time data from students during class or over a set period of time. Student response systems promote active learning, engage students, encourage participation, and allow for immediate feedback. No matter the curriculum, SRS can enhance the teaching and learning experience by giving every student a voice.
Game-Based Learning uses games to teach specific learning objectives and Gamification adds game-like elements, such as awards and points, into a lesson. Integrating games into the learning environment can increase learner engagement and sustain motivation using concepts like goals, interaction, feedback, problem solving, competition, and narrative.
Formative assessment is the process of checking for understanding so that instructors and students are able to see what they know and do not know. Formative assessments take place during instruction, while summative assessments take place after instruction. Instructors can utilize data from formative assessments to provide supplemental instruction or resources so that students are adequately prepared for summative assessments.
Summative assessments take place at the end of a unit and/or course in order to evaluate what students have learned based on defined learning objectives. Since summative assessments measure student learning over a longer period of time and result in a specific grade, they are often high stakes.
An electronic portfolio, or ePortfolio, is a compilation of student work from a course or a series of courses, course practicums, internships, and/or volunteer experiences. Students may include a number of different artifacts to exemplify their talents and academic and professional growth, such as electronic presentations, audio and video projects, and research papers. Another component of an ePortfolio is student reflection in which students comment on both the learning process and the final product. Students can create ePortfolios with websites such as Google Sites or WordPress or within the university’s learning management system (LMS).
The process of feedback/self-checking is more than just completing a multiple-choice quiz and receiving a grade. In this process, students complete a formative or summative assessment, receive feedback, and then “identify strategies that improve their understanding and skills” (McMillan & Hearn, 2008). Feedback can come from the instructor, a classmate, and/or electronically and is most effective when it provides information how students are doing in relation to the learning objective.
Universal Design for Learning provides the necessary framework that ideally gives all students an equal opportunity for educational success. It seeks to address and overcome certain barriers (the primary one being a one-size-fits-all approach), based on fundamental, learning sciences.
Brainstorming is a type of active learning in which the instructor poses a question or problem and students generate as many ideas as possible within a specified time frame. Generated ideas are not evaluated until the conclusion of the brainstorming session. At that time, the instructor brings the class back together to organize and rank ideas/solutions. Brainstorming activities are not limited to writing down ideas on paper or post-its. Students are able to brainstorm independently or collaboratively using Web 2.0 tools such as Padlet or OneDrive.
Collaborative learning is an active learning strategy in which two or more students work together on specified project to achieve a common goal. Each group member may work individually on an assigned topic in addition to collaborating with the fellow group members to complete other shared tasks to meet common requirements. Instructional technologies enhance the ability of student groups to collaborate and share and publish work.
Discussions are type of active learning that allow students to work through concepts from course content by formulating ideas in their own words. Synchronously or asynchronously, students can clarify understanding, debate topics, organize ideas, and practice skills.
Peer learning occurs when students are learning from each other. It differs from collaborative learning in that during periods of collaborative learning, students are learning alongside each other. On the other hand, peer learning allows students to learn from one another. It is not defined by a single instructional strategy, but any activity in which students are able to explain their ideas and give each other feedback. In addition to content mastery, peer learning aids in the development of interpersonal, communication, and critical thinking skills.
Social Media/Learning Communities
Social media/learning communities is a broad term that describes a number of different technologies that relate to collaboration and community. Incorporating social media into your classroom can encourage collaboration, resource sharing, and communication.
Incorporating case studies into instruction is a type of active learning in which students read or watch a scenario. The students are also provided supporting data and documents and an open-ended question or problem that they must propose a solution to. Case studies allow students to link theory to practice and experience reality in the classroom. By completing case study assignments, students practice identifying the problem, recognizing and expressing their point of view, and determining practical solutions.
Concept mapping is a type of active learning that allows students to visualize relationships between concepts. Students can construct a concept map in written or electronic form by organizing concepts or topics hierarchically with the most general concepts at the top followed by more specific concepts. Relationships between concepts are represented by creating cross-links between concepts and labeling with words or phrases that help explain the relationship.
Multimedia instruction involves the use of diverse types of media such as text, graphics, video, and animations to convey an instructional message. It is the foundation of many online and blended courses as it is an effective and personalized method of delivering instruction.
Digital storytelling is the art of bringing together audio, images, and text to share information on a specific topic. The purpose is to create a stronger emotional connection with the audience by using the spoken word and a blend of multimedia to convey a story. Combining images and written text also enhances student comprehension of the content for both the narrator and the audience.
Hyflex Resilient Pedagogy
Hyflex resilient pedagogy is utilized when faculty instruct students in a face-to-face and synchronous online environment at the same time. It is an adaptation from the HyFlex (Hybrid-Flexible) model, coined by Brian Beatty.
WCU has outfitted over 200 academic spaces to be utilized as hyflex teaching and learning environments. Learn more about a hyflex approach with the resources in our Hyflex Pedagogical Library.