Using Groups to Ensure Active Learning

3a: Using Groups to Ensure Active Learning

In this module, faculty learn to implement the essential components of effective active learning, including providing a rationale for the activity, promoting group interdependence, holding group members accountable, and collecting student feedback to identify strengths and areas for improving the activity. The module helps instructors implement three active learning techniques—Think-Pair-Share, Jigsaw, and Analytic Teams—depending on the learning objectives they have set for their class session or online module.

To satisfy the module requirements, faculty must implement one or more techniques, such as holding students accountable for their participation in group activities or implementing an appropriate active learning activity.

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Module References

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Barkley, E. F., Major, C. H., & Cross, K. P. (2014). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R.-M. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Carnegie Mellon University, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. (n.d.). Whys and hows of assessment. Retrieved from 

Chase, B., Germundsen, R., Cady Brownstein, J., & Schaak Distad, L. (2001). Making the connection between increased student learning and reflective practice. Educational Horizons, 79, 143–147.

Davidson, N., & Major, C. H. (2014). Boundary crossings: Cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3&4), 7–55.

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2005). New developments in social interdependence theory. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 131, 285–358.

Lambert, C. (2012, March–April). Twilight of the lecture: The trend toward “active learning” may overthrow the style of teaching that has ruled universities for 600 years. Harvard Magazine. Retrieved from 

McWilliam, E. L. (2009). Teaching for creativity: From sage to guide to meddler. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 29, 281–293.

Nilson, L. B., & Goodson, L. A. (2018). Online teaching at its best: Merging instructional design with teaching and learning research. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Twigg, C.A. (2015) Improving learning and reducing costs: Fifteen years of course description. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 47, 6-13.

Wieman, C. (2010). Basic instructor habits to keep students engaged. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website: 


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