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What does it mean to teach well? Accomplished biologist, Bill Wood, explains that this means shifting away from focusing on "What I do as an instructor to what students will do to learn." Here is a video with examples of different types of teaching - notice, what is the instructor doing? What are the students doing? Who is doing the thinking and the work, the instructor or the students? 

The types of teaching these instructors are doing are often described as "active learning" because, at certain points during class, the instructor stops talking and students engage in a task that helps them make progress toward achieving a learning objective

Why do we need to make use of active learning strategies instead of simply lecturing? Here from scientists across the country reflecting on teaching and learning, and why they moved away from lecturing to using active learning strategies:


Seminal research from Vygotsky, Bandura, and other learning scientists has demonstrated that learners change their thinking as a result of direction interaction with others. One way to achieve this is through peer instruction - when students work to teach each other, and learn in the process of doing so. Studies of peer instruction show that:

  • Students can better answer a similar question after talking aloud and with their peers.
  • Peer instruction coupled with instructor explanation works better than either one alone.
  • Students like peer instruction. The more students enjoy class, the more likely they will attend, participate, and dedicate time outside of class to studying.
  • Peer instruction classes outperform traditional lectures on a common test.