Engage Your Students


Increasing student engagement is one of our faculty's top priorities! For example, when we asked faculty in 2012-13 what kind of support they wanted, over half of recently tenured faculty said they wanted additional resources to help them engage their students even more effectively. So this page is dedicated to just this topic.

Techniques for engaging your students can range from simple 5-minute activities to multi-week problem-solving. Some of the simplest approaches are listed first in the blocks below.

The resources here are valuable for all types of faculty and for teaching in any kind of space. But they are especially important for teaching in active learning classrooms, like those in Mihaylo Hall (SGMH 2505) and the Faculty Commons (PLS 240).

Active Learning Strategies

These range from Think-Pair-Share and concept mapping to role playing and experiments. Often easy to use, they engage students and improve their recall of information, conceptual understanding, critical thinking, teamwork, interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and retention in academic programs.

Active Learning Classrooms

These include reconfigurable tables and seating, multiple displays, numerous whiteboards, and interactive technology to promote active learning. These short videos introduce you to these classrooms along with faculty and student perspectives on how they facilitate active and deep learning. 

Collaborative Learning

This is a flexible way of engaging students and a high-impact practice. Collaborative learning can range in duration from a quick Think-Pair-Share to a jigsaw session to extended work with case studies. It builds higher-level thinking skills, appreciation of diverse perspectives, and the ability to deal with real-life situations.

CSUF's Active Learning Classrooms

Our active learning classrooms are in Mihaylo Hall (SGMH-2505) and the Faculty Commons (PLS-240). For more guidance on effective pedagogy in these spaces, use the resources here, sign up for a corresponding FDC workshop, or arrange an individual consultation with FDC Faculty Coordinator Dr. Andrea Guillaume. 

Preparing and Helping Your Students

Students often benefit from an explanation of why you are using particular active learning strategies. Even so, some students may still feel confused or need additional guidance. The resources below will help you guide these students and quickly assess their learning to adjust your approach if needed. 

Is This Relevant to Your Discipline?

Yes! Active learning strategies and active learning spaces are relevant to all disciplines. Numerous studies have made clear that active learning significantly improves students’ learning and retention across disciplines. Browse a small sample of studies and recommended strategies for various disciplines. 

Problem-Based Learning

Students work in groups to solve realistic problems based on course material. Emphasizing depth of content, PBL improves students’ ability to reason and solve complex problems. As the instructor, you create problems, contextualize them through mini-lectures, and facilitate problem-solving. 

Clickers and Related Apps

Clickers and app-based student response systems promote student engagement in many ways. They stimulate discussion and spark new questions. They help you understand when and why students are confused or disengaged and how to fix the problem. The resources here offer both pedagogical and technical support. 

Team-Based Learning

This highly structured form of small-group learning requires students to prepare before class and work in teams during class to apply their knowledge to solve significant problems. The process emphasizes reflection, self-evaluation, and peer-evaluation. Mini-lectures target student misconceptions prior to team problem-solving. 

Other Technology Tools

Select technologies that support effective teaching by following Chickering and Gamson’s time-tested 7 Principles for Good Practice PDF File Opens in new window . Tools should foster principles like active learning, timely and meaningful feedback, and time on task to help students achieve your learning objectives and outcomes.