Creating Interactive Lectures and Active Discussions 

Research tells us that students are more likely to be engaged and to retain information in an active learning environment than in a purely lecture-based class. Creating interactive lectures that include active discussions encourages student engagement and helps develop students’ critical thinking and communication skills. Active class discussions also allow instructors to assess students’ understanding of the material and can reduce learning and achievement gaps among historically marginalized students. Creating active lectures and discussions takes a little bit of planning but is an effective way to support student learning. This list of 15 class discussion strategies provides specific examples and is organized by prep time. Read more about interactive lectures here.

Metacognition and Student Success 

Success in college requires students to have the ability to assess the demands of a task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed. Yet, research tells us that new college students often don’t know how to manage their own learning (i.e., lack metacognitive or self-regulation skills). In their book, How Learning Works, Ambrose and her colleagues (2010) suggest college instructors embed metacognitive strategies into the planned curriculum because when students become aware of the learning process, they gain control over their learning.  

Cognitive Wrappers for Student Self-Reflection

To help students reflect on a previous assessment and to support their confidence and preparation for the next one, consider providing students with a low-stakes cognitive wrapper. The purpose of this evidence-based practice is to ask students to reflect on their personal learning and study behaviors. This self-reflection activity promotes a growth mindset as students identify ways to improve their study skills and improve deep learning. Faculty can analyze data from the students to identify important trends, and students can see how various practices in test/assignment preparation align with their grades. These exam/assignment wrapper templates and handouts can be used to try this technique. The basic structure for an exam/assignment wrapper includes: 

  • Rationale: Explain what you were testing on in the assessment 
  • Reflective analysis questions based on the graded exam/assignment 
  • Prompts to help students improve on future assessments 


Interested in exploring any of these ideas further or discussing how you might implement them in your own teaching practices? Contact CETL or schedule a consultation to continue the conversation.