ACTIVE LEARNING DESIGN TEMPLATE

PURPOSE

This Active Learning Design Template is meant as a supplement to the Active Learning in Your Course booklet. While the booklet provides details on the definition, outcomes, and steps involved in the technique, there are other factors to consider in using them in your course. This design template will ask you questions that will prepare you in ways that will improve your chances of success and prepare you for the challenges that go along with facilitating active learning.

If you need help thinking about how to answer these questions, DoIT Academic Technology is available to consult with you on ways to select and design your active learning activities. To request a consultation with DoIT Academic Technology, contact the DoIT Help Desk.

CONTACT INFORMATION: (608) 262-4357 | help@doit.wisc.edu

STEP 1: IDENTIFY CATEGORY

Which category of learning outcomes aligns with the teaching challenge you hope to address through the use of active learning?

  • Analysis and Critical Thinking
  • Discussions
  • Prior Learning
  • Problem-Solving
  • Writing

STEP 2: SELECT TECHNIQUE

After selecting a category of active learning, review the techniques listed under it. Select one technique you could use in your class.

Analysis and Critical Thinking Discussion Prior Knowledge Problem-Solving Writing
  • Analytic Memos
  • Categorized Grid
  • Content, Form, and Function Outline
  • Defined Features Matrix
  • Pro and Con Grid
  • Buzz Groups
  • Round Robin
  • Talking Chips
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Three-Step Interview
  • Background Knowledge Check
  • Empty Outlines
  • Focused Listing
  • Memory Matrix
  • Minute Paper/Muddiest Point
  • Analytic Teams
  • Case Studies
  • Group Investigation
  • Send-A-Problem
  • Structured Problem-Solving
  • Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving
  • Collaborative Writing
  • Dialogue Journals
  • Student-Defined Questions
  • Paper Seminars
  • Peer Editing

STEP 3: DEFINE ACTIVITY

After selecting a technique, write a basic description of the activity. What would students do?

STEP 4: IDENTIFY CONNECTIONS

Before much more time is spent on the design and development of the activity, check to see how and whether the activity idea supports your unit objectives, course outcomes, or program outcomes.

STEP 5: DEFINE BENEFITS TO STUDENTS

What do you hope students would take away from completing the activity? How will that help them in the course, program, career, or life?

STEP 6: DEVELOP RATIONALE

Review your answers from question 4) Alignment and question 5) Benefits to students. Take these results and craft a rationale that you could use to explain the purpose of your use of this activity to students. Start by completing one or more of the following statement prompts:

  • The purpose of this activity is to…
  • You will benefit from this activity by…
  • This activity will prepare you for or to…
  • I am using this approach because I want you to be able to…

STEP 7: IDENTIFY DEPENDENT SKILLS FOR STUDENTS

Look at the activity and determine what skills or knowledge will students need to have mastered to be successful in this activity. If there is knowledge dependency, where are students learning this content? How will you know whether they have the required knowledge to succeed?  If there are skill dependencies, what are they? Do all students have these skills? Where did they learn them? If they haven’t learned them yet, how or where can they learning these skills before they complete the activity?

STEP 8:IDENTIFY DEPENDENT SKILLS FOR YOU

As you design this activity, what skills do you need for the activity to be successful? Are you confident in those skills? Are you comfortable trying new things in front of students? If not, what can you do to gain the necessary level of comfort to facilitate this activity?

STEP 9: DEFINE ACTIVITY PLACEMENT

Once you have a better idea of what the activity is and what students need to be successful, the next step is to determine when and where the activity takes place and what activities will precede and follow it.

  • If the activity is planned for the classroom, what activities could take place online or outside of class to prepare students?
  • What kind of activities could provide feedback on students’ readiness for the activity?
  • What activities can follow that build upon it?

STEP 10: DEFINE WORK

  • Looking at the description of the technique in the book, what work needs to take place to prepare for the activity?
  • What work takes place in the activity?
  • What work do you need to do after the activity is completed?

STEP 11: REFLECT

After the activity is completed, spend a moment reflecting on the following questions:

  • Did the activity go as you expected?
  • Did anything unexpected happen?
  • Did the students understand what they were supposed to do?
  • Were students prepared for the work involved?
  • Was the activity difficult enough? Too difficult? Too simple?
  • Did the students like the activity? Did they resist? If so, how well did you respond to the resistance?
  • Did you enjoy facilitating the activity? Do you want to do it again? Did you identify any skills that you need to develop more?
  • Would you do this activity again?

STEP 12: EVALUATE

In addition to basic reflection, you will want to know whether it has been effective? How will you know what, if any, changes or improvements you might need to do before repeating it? To develop an evaluation strategy, answer one or more of the following question:

  • Success in this activity looks like…
  • I know the activity was a success when I see…
  • I hope the activity will have helped students to…
  • I will be able to measure the impact of the activity by looking at…