It’s Not Them, It’s You: How to Write Small Group Active Learning Prompts That Actually Work

Credit: iStock.com/urbancow
Credit: iStock.com/urbancow
Active learning in small groups has, at best, a mixed reputation. Instructors voice concerns about unequal levels of participation, students rushing through activities to leave or log off early, difficulties in assessing effort and learning, and the fact that many students arrive in class not having completed the readings and assignments that would facilitate their participation (Ballen et al., 2017). Students complain of anxiety about talking to others, unequal workloads, the potential for looking incompetent in front of their peers and instructors, and a general sense of awkwardness related to not knowing what to do with the time allotted (Hood et al., 2021). 

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