In blended courses, active learning approaches include activities to collaborate, engage with realistic problems, and implement discipline-specific approaches that integrate course concepts. Research across disciplines supports the use of active learning to show benefits to students, such as improvements in critical thinking, knowledge retention, motivation, and interpersonal and communication skills.

Below is a list of selected research related to active learning applicable to blended courses.


Mello, David, and Colleen A. Less. “Effectiveness of active learning in the arts and sciences.” (2013).

Michael, Joel. “Where’s the evidence that active learning works?” Advances in physiology education 30.4 (2006): 159-167.

Prince, Michael. “Does active learning work? A review of the research.” Journal of engineering education 93.3 (2004): 223-231.

Smith, Michelle K., et al. “Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions.” Science 323.5910 (2009): 122-124.


Berk, Ronald A. “Survey of 12 strategies to measure teaching effectiveness.” International journal of teaching and learning in higher education 17.1 (2005): 48-62.


McGee, Patricia, and Abby Reis. “Blended course design: A synthesis of best practices.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 16.4 (2012): 7-22.

Owston, Ron, and Dennis N. York. “The nagging question when designing blended courses: Does the proportion of time devoted to online activities matter?.” The Internet and Higher Education 36 (2018): 22-32.


See also the Campus Toolkits section of the Blended Learning Toolkit for stories, resources, events, and solutions contributed by and relevant to disciplinary communities.


Mazur‐Stommen, Susan. “Optimal Foraging Theory and the Racecar Driver: The Impact of Student‐Centered Learning on Anthropological Pedagogy.” Anthropology & education quarterly 37.3 (2006): 273-284.


Allen, Deborah, and Kimberly Tanner. “Infusing active learning into the large-enrollment biology class: seven strategies, from the simple to complex.” Cell biology education 4.4 (2005): 262-268.

Armbruster, Peter, et al. “Active learning and student-centered pedagogy improve student attitudes and performance in introductory biology.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 8.3 (2009): 203-213.

Haak, David C., et al. “ Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology.” Science 332.6034 (2011): 1213-1216.

McClanahan, Elaine B., and Lon L. McClanahan. “Active learning in a non-majors biology class: lessons learned.” College Teaching 50.3 (2002): 92-96.

Waldrop, Lindsay D., et al. “Using active learning to teach concepts and methods in quantitative biology.” Integrative and comparative biology 55.5 (2015): 933-948.


Auster, Ellen R., and Krista K. Wylie. “Creating active learning in the classroom: A systematic approach.” Journal of Management Education 30.2 (2006): 333-353.

Stephen, Sheryl-Ann. “Enhancing the learning experience in finance using online video clips.” Journal of Financial Education (2015): 103-116.


Dougherty, R. C., et al. “Cooperative learning and enhanced communication: Effects on student performance, retention, and attitudes in general chemistry.”> Journal of Chemical Education 72.9 (1995): 793.

Cotes, Sandra, and José Cotuá. “Using audience response systems during interactive lectures to promote active learning and conceptual understanding of stoichiometry.” Journal of chemical education 91.5 (2014): 673-677.

Computer Science

McConnell, J.J. 1996. “Active learning and its use in Computer Science.” Integrating technology into Computer Science Education, 6/96, Barcelona. 52-54.

Pirker, Johanna, Maria Riffnaller-Schiefer, and Christian Gütl. “Motivational active learning: engaging university students in computer science education.” Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Innovation & technology in computer science education. ACM, 2014.

Tsai, Wei-Tek, et al. “Collaborative learning using wiki web sites for computer science undergraduate education: A case study.” IEEE Transactions on Education 54.1 (2011): 114-124.


Catalano, George D., and Karen Catalano. “Transformation: From teacher‐centered to student‐centered engineering education.” Journal of Engineering Education 88.1 (1999): 59-64.

Terenzini, Patrick T., et al. “Collaborative learning vs. lecture/discussion: Students’ reported learning gains.” Journal of Engineering Education 90.1 (2001): 123-130.


Remler, Nancy Lawson. “The more active the better: Engaging college English students with active learning strategies.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 30.1 (2002): 76.

Language (e.g., second language)

Oxford, Rebecca L. “Cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and interaction: Three communicative strands in the language classroom.” The Modern Language Journal 81.4 (1997): 443-456.

Hung, Hsiu-Ting. “Flipping the classroom for English language learners to foster active learning.” Computer Assisted Language Learning 28.1 (2015): 81-96.


Frederick, Peter J. “Motivating students by active learning in the history classroom.” Perspectives 37.7 (1993): 15-19.

Gaughan, Judy E. “The flipped classroom in world history.” The History Teacher 47.2 (2014): 221-244.

Vess, Deborah. “Creative writing and the historian: An active learning model for teaching the craft of history.” The History Teacher 30.1 (1996): 45-53.

History/Political Science

McCarthy, J. Patrick, and Liam Anderson. “Active learning techniques versus traditional teaching styles: Two experiments from history and political science.” Innovative higher education 24.4 (2000): 279-294.


Fahlberg, Beth, et al. “Active Learning Environments in Nursing Education: The Experience of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing.” New directions for teaching and learning 137 (2014): 85-94.

Shin, Hyunsook, et al. “Competency and an active learning program in undergraduate nursing education.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 71.3 (2015): 591-598.

Waltz, Carolyn F., Louise S. Jenkins, and Narae Han. “The use and effectiveness of active learning methods in nursing and health professions education: A literature review.” Nursing Education Perspectives 35.6 (2014): 392-400.


Margolis, Amanda R., Andrea L. Porter, and Michael E. Pitterle. “Best practices for use of blended learning.” American journal of pharmaceutical education 81.3 (2017): 49.


Freeman, Scott, et al. “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.23 (2014): 8410-8415.