Designing learning activities

The learning activities for a module or classroom or tutorial session need to align with the assessment you have designed, with the learning outcomes for the unit overall, and with the needs of the students at this stage of their learning.

Three students collaborating at a laptop

ACU's learning and teaching principles recommend learning activities that are:

  • active ('real-world', experiential teaching and learning)
  • engaging (for example, intellectually stimulating and/or collaborative)
  • inclusive (taking account of the diverse student body and communities)

Active learning

In-class and online, the kinds of student activities that encourage active learning are (Forsyth, 2008), for example:

  • making decisions
  • solving problems
  • identifying inconsistencies
  • evaluating critically
  • making recommendations
  • practising
  • imitating expert behaviour
  • seeking and taking advice
  • identifying patterns, and
  • changing behaviour on the basis of new knowledge.

-  active learning involves students in "doing things and thinking about what they are doing" (Bonwell & Eison, 1991).

Resources on active learning:

  • E-tivities: the key to active online learning (by Gilly Salmon, 2013. eBook and print copies available from ACU Library)
  • Active learning (from 'First year experience', The University of Sydney)
  • Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 111 (23 ), 8410–8415. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111

Ideas for 'real-world' learning:

Engaging activities

Effective learning and teaching requires shared commitment,  action and partnership between teachers and students. ACU encourages student and staff engagement in learning and teaching through intellectual  stimulation, collaboration, social interaction and dialogue.

You can encourage student engagment by using a variety of appropriate and effective teaching and learning approaches and  strategies, and keeping aware of pedagogical advances. It is also important to ensure that learning materials and activities are current, accurate and appropriate to the approved course  of study. Teachers and students should be empowered to engage in innovative,  critical, and well informed learning and teaching, that meets professional accreditation requirements.

Inclusive activities

In the same way as we welcome diverse community cohorts to the University, we need to ensure the learning environments and curricula we develop are inclusive of differences in gender and orientation, culture, ethnicity, capabilities and social and economic background.

The ACU community treats all members with respect, dignity and professional courtesy, and recognises and values the range of backgrounds and abilities of students and staff.

Staff and students respect each other’s right to hold particular and different points of view, while seeking to challenge them to be aware of and evaluate alternative theoretical perspectives, values and opinions. Sensitive topics are dealt with in ways that respect student views and feelings.

  • Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, H. 2011. eBook and print copies available from ACU Library.)

Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University.

Forsyth, H. (2008). Designing online learning activities. handout, ACU Online.

Policy