Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Active Learning- Technique And Timing: Does It Matter?

Does the type of active learning activity and the spacing of the activity in the class
session matter?
Asking individual questions dispersed throughout the session was compared to asking a
group of three questions at the end of the class period and the use of integrated minicases.
These active learning methods were also compared to no active learning.
The three active learning techniques were implemented concurrently on the same topic
in three sections of the same course. The techniques were cycled through twice during
the mini in different order.
The active learning methods were evaluated by formulating exam questions and then
matching the questions to the active learning methods used for each course topic.
In comparing the three active learning techniques, when introducing a new subject,
asking questions at intervals was most effective.
As students become more familiar with the subject matter, integrated cases take a
modest lead with questions at the end of class second.
While active learning appears to improve student understanding relative to no activity,
faculty may want to consider students’ background in the subject before choosing an
active learning technique.

Pastor, Lynne
HNZ, School Of Information Systems