Traditional Classrooms :: Engaging Students in a Traditional Classroom

Active learning

This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on active learning. More Active Learning documents

Active Learning approaches for traditional classrooms

Active Learning
Engaging Students in a Traditional Classroom

Traditional Classroom Activities

These resources present guidance on ways of facilitating active learning in the classroom. These resources are organized around four types of learning activities that support:

  • Prior Knowledge activities assess students' learning of facts and principles. They measure how well students are learning the content they are studying and reveal how they are managing the accumulation of knowledge into their already established structures. Using these approaches, instructors can gauge how well the content is being or has been learned. 
  • Analysis and Critical Thinking activities assess students' skills at breaking down information, questions, or problems to understand and solve them more fully. Using these approaches, instructors can measure how well students interpret or analyze information and arrive at an informed decision or judgment.
  • Problem-Solving activities assess how well students can analyze, evaluate, and apply information to solve a problem or draw a conclusion based on available evidence or information. Using these approaches, instructors can evaluate how well students can work within a given framework to come to a solution individually or collaboratively.
  • Discussion activities assess how well students can formulate their ideas and communicate them. Unlike large classroom discussions, these approaches place students in smaller groups to provide a structure for participation and opportunities to formulate and gather their thoughts, share and develop ideas with others, and rehearse their thoughts in a safer environment. Instructors can use these approaches to evaluate how well students recall, synthesize, and apply information in responding to a discussion prompt.
Activity Categories
Critical Thinking
Prior Knowledge
Analytic Memo Buzz Group Background Knowledge Probe Analytic Team
Categorizing Grid Round Robin Empty Outlines Case Studies
Content, Form, & Function Talking Chips Focused Listing Send-A-Problem
Defining Features Think/Pair/Share Memory Matrix Structured Problem-Solving
Pro and Con Grid Three-Step Interview Minute Paper | Muddiest Point Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving
Fishbowl Discussion


These activities are taken from the books Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook For College Teachers by Thomas Angelo and K. Patricia Cross, and Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley, Claire Howell Major, and K. Patricia Cross — which presents activities you can use to address specific learning outcomes. Each approach includes a basic description, an overview of its outcomes, and steps to guide its use in your course. Each technique in this resource was selected based on three criteria: ease of design, implementation, and time needed to respond to the activity.

  • Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 159-180.
  • Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 152.

Results: 1-20 of 23

No.Document TitleIDUpdatedViews
1Engaging Students in a Traditional Classroom1041182023-12-275213
2Background Knowledge Probe1041692023-12-226112
3Minute Paper / Muddiest Point1040872023-12-224724
4Defining Features Matrix1041132023-12-225843
5Analytic Memo1041052023-12-226423
6Categorizing Grid1041072023-12-224984
7Content, Form, and Function Outlines1041122023-12-224943
8Pro and Con Grid1040892023-12-225742
9Buzz Groups1041512023-12-228493
10Talking Chips1041542023-12-229717
12Three-Step Interview1041552023-12-2211581
13Empty Outlines1041702023-12-224977
14Focused Listing1041712023-12-225021
15Memory Matrix1041722023-12-226480
16Analytic Teams1041412023-12-223676
17Case Studies1041432023-12-223591
18Group Investigations1041442023-12-221926
20Structured Problem-Solving1041462023-12-225430
1  2  Next

Not finding what you are looking for? Suggest a new document be created.