Active Learning S20

Active learning supplements the presentation of information to training participants with the use of activities that engage learners with training content through participatory learning (actually doing something with new information received) and metacognition (thinking about thinking).

Some activities that utilize principles of participatory learning include, but are not limited to:

  • think-pair-share (participants work individually first, then share information with a partner before sharing some or all of the information back with the whole group),
  • sequence reconstruction (participants receive a set of mixed up individual steps in a process and work to reconstruct the correct sequence),
  • error identification (participants review information that deliberately contains errors and then identify and correct all the mistakes), and
  • concept map (participants receive a list of words, phrases and ideas, then create a graphic map on paper, using symbols and descriptive labels to define relationships between related concepts)

Metacognition involves reflecting on knowledge, experiences, and approaches to learning. It might involve summarizing or explaining newly-learned information or describing how this new information can be used in the workplace.  

To illustrate how participatory learning experiences and metacognition can fit together in training activities, let’s consider those concepts in terms of a simple, but effective and commonly-used debriefing model, Experience Identify Analyze Generalize (EIAG), developed by professional educator and trainer Ron Stadsklev.  

  • Experience – a trainer delivers a specific piece of information or training content to participants using a combination of content delivery modes (mini-lecture, video, presentation software display, reading selection, etc.) and then gives them a participatory learning activity to DO SOMETHING with the new information, either individually or in groups.  (the metacognition parts come next)
  • Identify –  participants describe the learning experience that just happened – What exactly did you do? What was significant about it to you?
  • Analyze – participants think about what they just described and analyze the description they provided – What went well or was easy for you? Why do you think it went well/was easy? What didn’t go well or was challenging for you? Why do you think it didn’t go well/was challenging? 
  • Generalize – participants draw conclusions based on their analysis – What new information have you learned? How can this new information be used in your workplace?

Watch the video, complete the Active Learning and Optimal Conditions for Adult Learning: Reflection ?Handouts (pages 12 and 13) and then complete the following ThinkSpot.


Yale: Metacognition in Classrooms –

Yale: Active Learning –

The EIAG Debriefing Model: