Putting the ‘learning’ back into active learning

Australia/Melbourne 2.00pm | Wed 17 April 2019
USA/Los Angeles 9.00pm | Tues 16 April 2019
UK/London 5.00am | Wed 17 April 2019
(Convert the time zone here)

Anselm Paul – Senior Learning Designer – Learning and Teaching Services

There is much ambiguity surrounding the concept and interpretation of ‘active learning’ in higher education. The extent of this ambiguity varies from institution to institution, discipline to discipline and even from teacher to teacher.  “Shouldn’t all learning be active?” some skeptics have argued.

The literature often presents active learning as a contrast to the lecture mode of delivery where students are positioned as passive recipients of information that is transmitted from an instructor (Prince, 2004). However, perhaps there are more nuanced ways for understanding the different concepts for teaching and learning – not all lectures are necessarily passive experiences that lead to little or no learning. Similarly, there is little guarantee that high-engagement team-based activities such as role-plays and gamification will lead to student learning.

In this session, Anselm will unravel the mysteries of active learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy and ‘flipped learning’ are presented as theoretical lenses through which active learning may be better understood. Specifically, he argues that active learning consists of two components: ‘active’ and ‘learning’. In designing for engaging and meaningful student learning experiences, there should be an equal emphasis placed on both elements.


  • Prince, M. J. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93,223-231