What is Active Learning?


One of the pods in Jacqui Lewis’ Abnormal Psychology class researches a question during a class exercise. It was the first class held in the Anteater Learning Pavillion. photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

What is active learning?

In an active learning class, the instructor replaces a portion of lecture with activities for students to solve problems, collaboratively analyze course material, and reflect and get feedback on their level of understanding.

Why is it good?

  • Matches neuroscience of learning and memory
  • Improves student performance
  • Reduces equity gaps
  • Increases inclusivity
  • Increases engagement and interest for students and instructors
  • Builds professional skills of teamwork and problem-solving

Why has UCI prioritized active learning?

UCI is proud of its diverse undergraduate student population. More than 25% of our students are Hispanic / Latin@, and more than 50% are first-generation. Our faculty are top-tier researchers and want to be as effective at teaching as they are in their scholarship. Current evidence indicates that teaching actively improves student outcomes, particularly in difficult courses and for a broader range of students. Our campus community is proud that our newest classroom building encapsulates a major pillar of our strategic plan: to lead the nation in use and generation of evidence-based teaching approaches in higher education.

Selected References

Eddy, S.L. and Hogan, K.A., 2014. Getting under the hood: how and for whom does increasing course structure work?. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 13(3), pp.453-468.

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.

Further reading is available.

View from Outer Ring Road


Learning Spaces and Features Lecture Halls Stacked 400-seat and 250-seat lecture halls Two rows of tables and seats per tier …

ALP - Structure on UCI Campus


New school of thought First ‘active learning’ building in California to open at UCI Students collaborate on a question at …