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Getting Them Involved - The Art of Interactive Learning

Whether they involve technology or focus on hands-on learning techniques, interactive teaching strategies are all about engaging students. These strategies encourage collaboration and help students develop problem-solving skills.

This technique forces all students to attempt an initial response to the question and gives shy students a chance to participate with their peers.

Group Projects

From grade school to graduate school, many students have been faced with group assignments. These projects can be an effective way to diversify learning, teach collaborative skills and promote problem solving with peers. However, they can also be frustrating for some students when group members don’t contribute equally.

Group project trouble often stems from a lack of clear expectations. At the start of a group project, consider asking students to agree on the roles and responsibilities for their work in advance. This helps to limit misunderstandings and conflicts as the project progresses.

Groups should also decide how they will communicate and share materials. Whether an online course or an in-person class, having clear communication channels can help keep everyone on the same page. For example, using a chat or video conference tool allows students to ask questions and provide feedback quickly. Groups should also set clear due dates for the different pieces of the final product, such as content or presentation drafts.


Most people only hear about debates when there is an election, but they are a common part of school life and at university. In a debate, students divide into teams and take positions (pro or con). The opposing teams then argue their position in front of the class. At the end, a decision is made by a judge or group of judges.

Debate is a great way to develop communication skills and learn to present a clear argument. It also helps students understand the importance of research and how to effectively use evidence. As an added benefit, studies across the country show that debating can improve reading ability, grades, and school attendance.

To make the most of a debate, students should be given a time frame (10 minutes synchronously or 5 days asynchronously) to prepare their statements and strategies. It’s also important to include a time for questions from non-debaters so that all students can participate.


Think-Pair-Share is a discussion strategy that gives students time to individually think, then share their responses and ideas with a partner, before engaging in a group discussion. This can help students who are less comfortable talking in front of the entire class. This is a great method to use for a classroom read aloud, for science experiments such as determining which objects will sink or for analyzing results from a lab experiment.

In some cases, instructors will randomly call on students during the "think" portion to share with the whole class. However, this approach can create inequities amongst students in terms of who is selected to speak. Also, it can heighten anxiety levels in some students based on their level of comfort or expertise with the subject matter (Downing et al., 2020). Using think-pair-share with pairs instead of individuals can eliminate these inequities and boost student confidence. Also, teachers can incorporate a "write" section in the thinking stage for more accountability and allow students to write their initial thoughts on mini dry-erase boards.

Role Plays

Role plays and simulations allow learners to take on a variety of personas in diverse learning settings. Like acting, these experiential learning activities challenge learners to better understand concepts or processes through a creative application of the concept.

During role plays, it's important for participants to get into character and fully commit to the scenario. This can be difficult, especially for ELL students who may be hesitant to use their native language in front of a group of strangers. To help encourage a more authentic experience, orient the participants by discussing the context of the scenarios they'll be practicing in the class.

Just as actors must follow the directions of their director, it's crucial for instructors to be clear about what they expect from students during role-play or simulation sessions. Instructors can also facilitate the sessions by providing guidance to observers, who should be taught how to assess a student's performance objectively and provide meaningful feedback.

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