Much is said these days about “active learning” and “flipping the classroom,” but how is it done? Why is it worth doing? What are the challenges, and how can they be met effectively?

In the Instructor Insights pages of his Aeronautics and Astronautics course 16.06 Principles of Automatic Control, Professor Steven Hall explains how he has incorporated active learning into his recitation sessions. In four short videos, Professor Hall assesses the benefits and challenges of active learning, and his observations are illustrated with footage from his own class recitations.

Instead of standing in front of the classroom and showing students how to do problems, Hall has his students up on their feet, working in small groups on assigned problems at blackboards. Hall ranges about the room acting as a coach, helping students when they are stuck and showing them best ways of approaching the problems.

The advantages are clear: The students are actively engaged throughout the recitation. They learn by doing. They have a clear and immediate sense of how well they have mastered the course materials and techniques. And so does their instructor.

View Professor Hall’s insights on active learning.

Professor Hall’s reflections on teaching recitations are part of OCW’s Educator project. You can see the reflections of other MIT instructors at their courses’ Instructor Insights pages.