Instructor Insights

Perceived Barriers to Active Learning

In this section, Jeff Gore discusses the perceived barriers preventing educators form implementing active learning in the classroom.

"I have found that preparing for active learning does not necessarily take more effort than preparing for traditional lectures."
—Jeff Gore

Too often we, as educators, have this idea that incorporating active learning into our teaching means we have to devote much more time to preparing to teach. I think this idea is a barrier for many educators. In my experience, it really doesn’t have to be. I have found that preparing for active learning does not necessarily take more effort than preparing for traditional lectures. In addition, with active learning the classroom experience is much more free flowing, in the sense that you don’t necessarily know where the discussions are going to go. This can be a little bit scary, because you can’t always rely on your lecture notes, but it also makes teaching more fun.

I also think educators see teaching large classes as a barrier to incorporating active learning. I don’t think this needs to be a barrier. With concept questions, for example, everyone—whether it’s 5 or 500 students—is seeing the question, trying to figure it out, and engaging with the people next to him or her. Active learning strategies, such as concept questions, are so powerful precisely because they scale so well.

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