Defining Active Teaching and Learning

Active teaching and learning is an approach that informs the practices of teaching based on the belief that people learn best by actively constructing knowledge rather than by passively adding memorised facts to an existing store of knowledge. In active teaching and learning, engaging learners to think critically about problems prevails over the transmission models where teachers are the central source of knowledge, engaging learners mainly through rote memorisation. 


Active teaching and learning derives from an alternative theory of knowledge known as constructivism. While not opposed to the use of scientific methods to create knowledge, constructivism assumes that knowledge emerges through reflection on one’s experiences, ideas and interactions.

In other words, knowledge is created through a process of new information interacting with prior knowledge and experiences of learners. Several prominent education scholars, such as Jean Piaget, demonstrate the relevance of constructivism to pedagogy. They show how knowledge is relevant when it is ‘in use’ and linked to previous experience rather than when it is ‘delivered.’

Constructivism suggests that teachers should create the conditions for learners to discover and actively construct knowledge -to ‘learn to learn’- and to develop the higher order thinking skills of analysis and synthesis through inquiry-oriented activities.

  • Think about a lesson you recently taught/observed or
    followed. Do you think you/the teacher used active
    teaching and learning in during this lesson?

  • What are the reasons for your answer?

  Introduction to Active Teaching and Learning               Rationale for Active Teaching and Learning

Last modified: Tuesday, 11 August 2020, 2:41 PM