Skip to Main Content
Skip to main content

Instructional Support: BOPPPS Model: Participatory Learning / Active Learning

What is participatory learning and why is it important?

Participatory learning is "the body of the lesson, where learners are involved as actively in the learning process as possible. There is an intentional sequence of activities or learning events that will help the learner achieve the specified objective or desired outcome" (source).

As illustrated in the examples below, the focus is on the learner actively engaging and participating in the learning process (hence the term active learning). 

These documents (pdf) provide various approaches to incorporating active learning into the learning process:

Sample Active Learning Activities

Think - Pair - Share
Learners work on a specific task or problem individually and then discuss their approach with a partner. The final step is to synthesize and share the discussion with the larger group.

Cooperative Groups in Class
"Pose a question on which each cooperative group will work while you circulate around the room answering questions, asking further questions, keeping the groups on task, and so forth. After an appropriate time for group discussion, ask students to share their discussion points with the rest of the class" (source).

Learners are given a short quiz or survey to determine their comprehension of a specific concept. Free software, such as Kahoot or Poll Everywhere, can be used to create online polls, surveys and quizzes to assess knowledge of the participants. Instructors need to create an account and set-up the questions ahead of time.

This technique is used to generate new ideas where judgment is suspended. There are various ways to use brainstorming in the classroom:

1. Instructor introduces a concept or question to the class and asks the learners to reflect for a moment and then report their ideas out to the broader class. The instructor, or the learners, then note their responses on the board. Alternatively, instructors can create questions online using software such as Kahoot or Poll Everywhere. Students can then record their ideas online and the software will display the various ideas, often as word clouds. 

2. Gallery walk: Instructor notes several questions / concepts on a series of flip chart paper around the room. Learners then walk-around the room, noting their ideas on each paper. This can also be done in groups.

Dotmocracy: Use this activity if the goal of the brainstorming activity is to build consensus or rank ideas. Learners are given six dotted stickers and are asked to vote for their top six ideas by placing their stickers on their preferred choices (e.g.: learners can give six stickers to one idea, one sticker to six different ideas). Learners can then visually access the distribution of the sticky dots.

One Word Splash
"After explaining new material, ask your students to write down one word to sum up that material. Now, you might think that writing down one word is overly simplistic but it actually requires higher processing skills that will help your students digest their learning. This can be done either with a pencil and paper or a dry erase marker and personal whiteboard for each student" (source).

Sorting Strips
"Small bits of information are separated into strips so that students can sort the strips into various categories, or organize them into a sequence depending on the topic. This strategy encourages discussion of competing ideas or organizations or order in which a process would take place. In this case, it is often the discussion and sharing of ideas that is the most important outcome of the activity" (source).

Jigsaw discussion
"A general topic is divided into smaller, interrelated pieces (e.g., a puzzle is divided into pieces). Each member of a team is assigned to read and become an expert on a different topic. After each person has become an expert on their piece of the
puzzle, they teach the other team members about that puzzle piece. Finally, after each person has finished teaching, the puzzle has been reassembled, and everyone on the team knows something important about every piece of the puzzle" (source).

One Minute Paper / Free Write
"Ask students to write for 2-3 minutes on a topic or in response to a question that you've developed for the session. Again, this is particularly useful in those moments in which instructors are asking students to move from one level of understanding to another, from presentation of new ideas to application of ideas, from considerations about self to situations involving others. These  moments of writing provide a transition for students by bringing together prior learning, relevant experience and new insights as a means of moving to a new (aspect of the) topic. The writing offers students a moment to explore ideas before discussion, or to bring closure to a session by recording ideas in their minds at that moment" (source).