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Active Learning in Library Instruction


Time Required: Less Than 5 Minutes

Quick Activities

Active learning doesn't have to mean an intricate, 50-minute flipped classroom activity. Many active learning strategies are quick activities that require less than five minutes of time. These strategies can be incorporated at the beginning, middle, or end of lessons and are great for promoting students' metacognitive skills while also formatively assessing student learning. Consider using a quick activity to gauge background knowledge at the start of class, check for comprehension midway through a session, or to review key takeaways before students leave.

Example Strategies

Think-Pair-Share: Students discuss a question or prompt with a nearby partner. Volunteers from pairs may share with the class. Variations include Turn-and-Talk and Think-Pair-Repair (students discuss and then switch discussion partners). 

Minute Paper: Students respond to a question or prompt in writing for one minute. The instructor may or may not collect the responses. Volunteers may share their answers with the class. 

Muddiest Point: Students indicate what concept, skill, or point is the most unclear to them. This strategy can be used mid-way through a session to formatively assess student understanding and adjust the rest of the lesson accordingly, or at the end of a class to see what support students will need moving forward. Using a digital tool or asking students to write a response independently may encourage greater participation. 

Online Poll: Students respond to a poll or prompt on a digital platform such as PollEverywhere,, or Padlet. This technique can be used at the start of class to assess background knowledge, allow students to set their own learning goals, and to provide a preview of the session's content. These tools also offer a means to "quiz" students during or after the session.

Mid-Point Summary: Students summarize what they have learned so far. This strategy is useful before moving on to a new topic, or before beginning an activity where students need to use the information they've been given. A turn-and-talk strategy could be used here, or an online poll/word cloud generator/digital stick note board could allow students to see all of their peers' responses.

3-2-1 Paper: Students share 3 three things they've learned, two things they plan to do now, and one question or concern they still have. This activity is easily adapted for time (2-1 paper instead) or for content. This makes a great exit ticket, especially if students provide their names and contact information, as the instructor can then follow up on their questions. 

What is an Exit Ticket?

Consider using one of the quick activities in the Example Strategies box as an exit ticket. Exit tickets are short activities or tasks that students must complete at the end of a class before leaving. Whether the exit ticket is a 3-2-1 paper, a quiz, or an online poll, it serves a dual purpose: it provides the instructor with a means of assessing student learning while also encouraging students to reflect on their own knowledge and understanding. Information gathered from the exit ticket can be used to plan follow-up strategies such as individual research consultations or content on Canvas.

See the files below for example exit tickets. Feel free to use and adapt them for your own sessions!