Active Learning: What Students Want

Active learning benefits for students

Active learning is a buzzword in education circles. “Active learning” means different things to instructors, learners, instructional designers, and administrators. What do college students really think about it? According to a recent survey by Inside Higher Ed, students want active learning and have suggestions for instructors.

The survey, conducted in February 2023 and included over 1,000 college students from across the United States, found that nearly 90% of respondents believed active learning environments are more engaging than traditional lecture-based classes. Additionally, over 80% of students reported feeling more motivated to learn in active learning environments, and nearly 70% said they felt more confident in learning and retaining information.

artwork by Malvika Shah

But what exactly is active learning, and why are so many students responding positively to it? At its core, active learning is a teaching method that emphasizes student engagement and participation. Instead of simply listening to a lecture, students in active learning environments are encouraged to collaborate, discuss, and problem-solve with their peers.

Professors can use various active learning techniques in their classrooms, including group work, case studies, and simulations. These methods keep students engaged and allow them to apply what they are learning to real-world scenarios.

So why are so many students responding positively to active learning? For one, it breaks up the monotony of traditional lecture-based classes. Instead of feeling like they are being talked at for an hour or more, students are actively involved in the learning process. This can lead to greater motivation and confidence in their ability to learn.

Additionally, active learning environments often foster community and collaboration among students. By working together on group projects and discussions, students can build relationships with their peers and feel a sense of camaraderie that may be lacking in more traditional classrooms.

Of course, implementing active learning techniques in the classroom requires some extra effort from professors. Creating engaging group activities or finding relevant case studies may take more planning and preparation. But as the survey results show, the benefits of active learning are worth it.

If you’re a college professor looking to increase student engagement and motivation in your classes, consider incorporating more active learning techniques into your curriculum. Your students may thank you for it.

College professors play a crucial role in promoting student success. According to a recent Student Voice survey on academic life, professors can support students beyond engaging them in more active learning. Here are six ways professors can promote student success:

  1. Provide feedback: Students need feedback to improve their work and learn from their mistakes. Professors should provide timely and constructive feedback that helps students understand what they did well and what they need to improve.
  2. Encourage participation: Professors should encourage students to participate in class discussions and activities. This helps students develop critical thinking skills and learn from their peers.
  3. Be approachable: Professors should be approachable and available to students who need help or have questions. This helps students feel comfortable seeking help when they need it.
  4. Use inclusive language: Professors should promote equity and use inclusive language that respects all students regardless of their background or identity.
  5. Promote diversity: Professors should include readings from people from minoritized backgrounds.
  6. Experiment with teaching styles: Professors should be open to experimenting with different modes of teaching. Half of the students say professors’ openness to experimenting with other teaching methods would promote their academic success.

Your students are hungry for more active learning. The Babb Group are experts at instructional design and creating engaging online and hybrid learning environments. Contact us for more on how to collaborate with our team to set your faculty and students up for success.


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Angela Britcher

Angela Britcher is an instructional designer and content creator with The Babb Group. She is also an adjunct professor of business and communications.
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