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Research Guides

5 Tips for Teaching in the ALCs

The recent UW Provost Innovators Among Us series featured the Active Learning Classrooms and includes 5 tips for teaching in the ALCs:

  • Seek advice and guidance in adopting active learning strategies
  • Design activities that support course learning goals
  • Orient students to the ALC and to active learning
  • Be intentional in use of group work
  • Minimize lectures

ALC Research

Odegaard Library and UW Information Technology’s collaborative research team has studied the experiences of instructors and students in the Odegaard Library Active Learning Classrooms for two years. Year 1 focused on the effects the ALC had on teaching and learning; read the full report here.

In year 2 of our research, we created four Active Learning Classroom profiles; read about our methods here.The profiles are linked below and include:

  • a “day in the life” of the ALC course
  • the course’s pedagogical goals and challenges
  • student experiences in the course
  • overall best practices that can be applied to active learning and traditional classrooms alike.


Pictured, Nyan-Ping Bi: “In today’s educational atmosphere… it’s about how well you motivate your students to participate and contribute.”

Best Practices from Active Learning Profiles

Selected best practices for teaching in the Active Learning Classrooms from the ALC research profiles:

  • Design group learning activities that required student cooperation and ensure both group and individual student accountability
  • Frequently communicate (and repeat) course expectations and learning goals
  • Actively cultivating a “helping” classroom culture and encouraging participation from all students; valuing student participation over correct answers
  • Carefully scaffold substantive pair/small group activities that engage students in practicing targeted material through a variety of means (reading, writing, speaking, evaluating)
  • Respectfully engage passive participants
  • Design small group assignments that benefit from multiple perspectives, collaborative effort
  • Through formative assessment, individualizing instruction to student groups and individuals as necessary
  • Encouraging independent use of classroom resources (e.g. whiteboards) and students’ own laptops.

Active Learning Pedagogy Support

Instructor Support

Student Support