To incorporate the principles that foster active learning, ask yourself these questions:
1. Learner relevance
- Who is being taught?
- Why should the learner care about this?
- What does the learner already know about this subject?
- How does this content relate to what the learner knows?
- How does this content resonate with the learner's culture?
- What task would make this topic or outcome relevant to the learner?
- How can I assess the learners prior knowledge and skills to scaffold understanding?
2. World relevance
- How is this content useful or applied in the world?
- Does this content represent the worldview of the learner?
- What would be an example of this knowledge applied in the world?
3. Ill-defined problem
- Can this outcome be framed around an existing problem that the learner investigates?
- Does this content lend itself for inquiry?
- How can this problem be framed around an investigation?
4. Sustained investigation
- Is this subject matter complex and would benefit from a sustained investigation?
- What are the goals for learning and how can inquiry be used to reach that goal?
- What will be the product of this investigation be?
- What diagnostic and formative activities will scaffold and sustain the investigation?
5. Multiple sources and perspectives
- What kind of content is worth having learners spend their time learning?
- How can the content be organized around conceptual frameworks and ideas to make it more memorable?
- What primary/secondary resources exist that the learner can use to investigate this content?
- Does this subject lend itself for crowdsourcing of opinions, data, solutions to a problem?
- Does this subject benefit from role-based learning in order for learners to examining evidence, arguments, and claims from multiple perspectives?
- Who is being taught? What cultural lenses does the student have?
- What is being taught? What cultural lenses does the content have?
- Are learner and content lenses at odds with one another?
- Does this outcomes lend itself for collaboration?
- Does this outcome require that soft skills are fostered?
- Does this outcome touch on diversity issues and thus learners would benefit from working with others and hearing diverse perpectives?
- Would this outcome benefit from collaboration?
7. Reflection (metacognition)
- How can the learner connect what they already know with what they are learning?
- How can the learner self assess her understanding?
- How can the learner track his learning?
- How can the learner communicate his / her understanding?
- What stereotypes, misconceptions might exist around this subject that need to be dispelled?
8. Interdisciplinary perspective
- How does this outcome relate to other topics across disciplines?
- Are there any 21st Century themes: global awareness, environmental literacy, civic literacy, etc that this outcome can support and connect to?
- Would the lense of another discipline aid the understanding of this outcome?
- Does this subject matter / problem lend itself to be investigated across disciplines?
9. Integrated assessment
- Is the assessment of learning consistent with the goals?
- What type of project would allow the learner to investigate this subject matter?
- Can smaller (diagnostic and formative) learning activities be scaffolded into this larger assessment?
- Does the assessment go beyond an academic task and have value in its own right?
10. Polished products
- What product can the learner create that demonstrates his understanding of this outcome?
- Can developing a product around this outcome help the learner deepen her understanding around this topic?
11. Multiple interpretations and outcomes
- Does this outcome encourage choice and application of unique approaches and diverse solutions?
- Does this outcome benefit from being explored from multiple perspectives?
Darling-Hammond, L., Barron, B., Pearson, P. D., Schoenfeld, A. H., Stage, E. K., Zimmerman, T. D., ... & Tilson, J. L. (2015). Powerful learning: What we know about teaching for understanding. John Wiley & Sons.
Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A practical guide to authentic e-learning. Routledge.Lombardi, M. , Oblinger, D. (2007) Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview.