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Active Learning is anything that students do in a classroom other than passively listening to an instructor's lecture. This includes everything from listening practices which help the students to absorb what they hear, to short writing exercises in which students react to lecture material, to complex group exercises in which students apply course material to "real life" situations and/or to new problems. Students are no longer mere receivers of information but they are given time to work with the topic. This chart compares traditional lectures with active learning.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Carder, Barbara, "Class Activities that Create a Climate for Active Learning!" (2016). Learning Showcase 2016: A Celebration of Discovery, Transformation and Success. 9.