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Active Learning in Library Instruction


Time Required: 15+ Minutes

Longer Active Learning Activities

While active learning strategies don't have to take much time to be useful, longer activities that utilize a larger portion of the class period can be both engaging and effective. For a longer class period, a second library session, or a flipped classroom, consider incorporating one of the more in-depth activities listed in the Example Activities box.

Longer Activities

Jigsaw: Students are placed in small groups and each group is assigned a topic to become familiar with. This may involve pre-class content or materials provided during the session. Once groups have debriefed on the content and become experts, groups are scrambled to include one expert on each topic. Students then teach other members of their new group. 

Half-Class Lecture: Break the class into two groups. One group begins class with the "lecture" portion, while the other completes some sort of activity in groups or pairs. After groups switch, and everyone has had a chance to complete the activity and hear the lecture, form pairs with a student from each group to debrief. This activity may be useful in scenarios where there aren't enough resources (ex. computers) for the whole class to use at once.

Affinity Grouping: Place students in groups based on a common characteristic, such as similarities in their research topics. Prepare materials or an activity for each group and move about the classroom offering targeted guidance and assistance to each group. This activity is flexible in the sense that it can be fairly brief (15-20 minutes) or used for most of a class period. 

Collaborative Document: Using Google Docs or another collaborative platform (ex. Canvas discussion board), students work in groups to generate some sort of final product. This could be a portion of the assignment, such as a preliminary bibliography, or a librarian-created item such as a worksheet or scavenger hunt.