How Can I Learn How to Incorporate Active Learning in My Teaching?

Thursday February 2nd, 2017

Short and best answer: Go to a POGIL Summer Regional Meeting

Short and best answer: Go to a POGIL Summer Regional Meeting (link).

Read on if you want more justification!

Maybe you’ve read or heard about the PNAS paper “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics”.1 Maybe your department head or dean has asked you and your colleagues to include more active learning strategies in your teaching. Maybe one of your colleagues has started using active learning and talks about how much more fun teaching has become. Maybe you tried some active learning strategies, but the students rebelled. Maybe you’ve heard of this “pogil” thing and you want to find out more. Or maybe you have even tried “POGIL” (you found those activities on a website and they looked effective and interesting) – and it really didn’t work out that well.

What to do?

One of the best ways – I would argue THE best way – to incorporate active learning in your classroom is to attend a workshop. “But wait,” you say, “I’ve been to workshops at my school. Someone comes in and lectures to us about how to get students to be more active. And their ideas work in their environment, but they would never work in my class.” Your students are not sufficiently well-prepared. Your class size is too big or too small.

Well, the POGIL Project has an answer for you – and the answer is an active workshop. Our summer regional workshops provide real, hands-on practice with active learning techniques. Workshop participants become students, and then the participants unpack and reflect upon their own learning. Here are some of the great features of a POGIL Regional Meeting workshop:

  • If you want to use POGIL in a lab course, you will do an actual, honest-to-goodness POGIL experiment, collecting and analyzing data in the same way as your students, and then you will write (a rough draft of) a POGIL experiment.
  • If you want to write POGIL activities, there is a track designed just for you: You practice defining your objectives, developing robust models, and scaffolding learning cycle questions.
  • If you want to improve your facilitation of POGIL activities, there is a track designed for you, too: You can facilitate an activity of your choice and get constructive feedback on how to improve, and you learn innovative ways to get students more engaged.


The POGIL Regional Workshops have other benefits:

  • You work with faculty and teachers in your discipline and in related STEM areas, so you can see how these techniques work in different environments.
  • You network with faculty and teachers, getting tested advice on implementing POGIL in your classroom with your
  • Present your own classroom-tested ideas in a poster session.
  • Stay in a dorm and eat on campus (ok, this one might not be considered an advantage, but it does keep the costs down).

To see the full agenda and descriptions of sessions for the summer workshops, go here. To sign up, visit  And you can email with any questions. Sign up now! Spaces are limited, reserve your place today.

(1)        Freeman, S.; Eddy, S. L.; McDonough, M.; Smith, M. K.; Okoroafor, N.; Jordt, H.; Wenderoth, M. P. Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2014111 (23), 8410–8415.