Active Learning Outputs

Products Make Thinking Visible

This post is part of a series on Active Learning methods. Click here to see the menu for this series.

While some active learning approaches are valuable simply for the experience of engagement and discussion, others can be focused on the creation of some output or artifact. These can serve as concrete evidence of your students’ thinking.

Some Techniques

Concept Maps

Students work on paper, flip-charts, or the board–individually or in groups–to visually depict important elements and relationships in material being covered. This prompts reflection, explicit focus on conceptual relationships, and is a very efficient learning diagnostic for the instructor.¬†Websites like Bubbl.Us allows students to create and share concept maps both in and out of Huber, Hutchins, & Gale (2006)

Informal Writing

Beginning class with students writing a few “observations” from the reading can prime the pump for thoughtful discussion. Likewise, concluding class with students writing a “one minute paper” in response to a prompt (e.e. “What was the most important thing discussed today and what is still the most unclear to you?”) stimulates student reflection.¬†Blogs and wikis can be used for informal writing both in and out of class, as can a quick Google Form. For more on informal writing, click here.

Gallery Walks

active-Active-Learning-Outputs-2Students or groups can produce something on a large piece of flip-chart paper, e.g.: a short piece of writing, chemical chain, or diagram of a bridge or set of relationships. Students can then review others’ work, putting “sticky notes” where they want to engage in discussion. This enables peer review and engagement. Websites such as allow for co-creating presentations in class and sharing them in a “virtual gallery walk.”




Huber, M.T., Hutchings, P., & Gale, R. (2006). Integrative learning for liberal education. PeerReview, Summer/Fall.