Active Teaching Exchange Recap: Active Learning in Large Lectures

Thu April 12, 2018

Promoting participation and engagement in large-enrollment courses can be one of the toughest challenges for active teaching. How do you move away from the “sage on the stage” approach to teaching with a class of hundreds? In the April 12, 2018 Active Teaching Exchange, Barb King from the School of Nursing shared how she transformed the traditional lecture into an active learning experience.


  • It took quite a bit of time and effort to learn how to use active teaching — including a lot of failures or teachable moments!
  • Even though students often initially resist (and dislike) active learning activities (it’s more work than listening), it’s correlated with tremendous gains in deeper learning.
  • Because there were portable whiteboards in the nursing active learning classroom, group concept mapping was used all the time by many instructors. Students quickly got tired of it. (New activities had to be used)
  • A challenge of moving to new teaching spaces is that each time it takes a lot of effort to fit activities to the affordances of the classroom.
  • Power lectures in class are 20-25 minutes, and don’t overlap what they see in their online work.
  • All quizzes are low-stakes, and done online.
  • After they learn a concept, she has “stop points” where they are directed to visualize, reflect on, and kinesthetically engage their bodies on, how they would apply the concept in their future jobs, etc.


Active Teaching Exchanges are held Thursdays from 1-2pm in room 120, Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.). Check out the upcoming Exchanges or read the recaps from past Exchanges.

Like the Active Teaching Exchanges, Active Teaching Labs feature instructors sharing their teaching experiences with tools and techniques, but also provide time for hands-on exploration of tools. Labs are are held Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in room 120, Middleton Building as well as some Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm in room 302 Middleton Building. See the full calendar of both events. Stay informed about upcoming Labs and Exchanges by signing up for regular announcements by sending an email to