How to Employ Active Learning Strategies


As careerpros we often impart information to our clients through lectures, workshops, and seminars. Clients learn more when they participate in the process of learning, whether it’s through discussion, practice, review, or application. When we employ active learning strategies in our practice, clients engage, participate, and collaborate.

Active learning techniques can be used in large groups and in one-on-one consulting. “Telling” is not always “teaching.” And “listening” is not always “learning.” Incorporate active learning strategies into every component of your career services. Instead of having clients memorize information, have them participate by practicing an approach, applying a strategy, analyzing a situation, or using a concept in a “real-life” scenario.

The following resources offer insights and practical tips for incorporating active learning techniques into the work you do with your clients.

The Death of Lecture | Ken Steele | Eduvation IdeaBank (8:33 minutes)

Active Learning Classrooms | Ken Steele | Eduvation IdeaBank (10:24 minutes)

Neurosculpting Practice: Use Habits To Break Habits | Lisa Wimberger (4:23 minutes)

Misconceptions of Learning Styles | Anita Acai | TEDxGuelphU (14:21 minutes)

Every Decision is a Career Decision | Dave Redekopp | TEDxWestVancouverED | (17:16 minutes)

Active Learning Resources and Videos | Centre for Research Learning and Teaching  (resources)

Active Learning Techniques | Vanier College (pdf)

Creativity and Play in Career Services | Skye Berry | Career Professionals of Canada (post)

Using Storytelling in Career Exploration | Lysa Appleton | Career Professionals of Canada (post)

Do you practice handshaking with your clients? | Lori Jazvac | Career Professionals of Canada (post)

How Mentoring in the Workplace Can Strengthen Your Company | Paul Love | Robert Half Talent Solutions (post)

Consider these questions and please add to the discussion below.

  • What active learning techniques do you employ with your clients?
  • How do you incorporate content such as information and text into your training?
  • How do you ensure that key concepts are retained through active learning?
  • How do you ensure that clients participate, take action, and apply learning?
  • What will you do differently to encourage learning through engagement and collaboration?

Sharon Graham is Canada’s Career Strategist. Founder and Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada and top-selling author of career publications, Sharon’s PASSION is helping Canadian career practitioners achieve career and business success. Her MISSION is to seek out and find new ways to help her colleagues survive and thrive. Her VISION is to drive the nation towards global leadership in career development.

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This is an excellent topic for discussion. I especially enjoyed the Neurosculpting talk. The idea behind creating or finding the practice and new behaviour to break things like ‘limiting beliefs’ is of utmost importance with today’s job seekers. It is important to guide our clients through the notion that with time, repetition and emotional investment they can slowly begin to overcome limiting beliefs or ‘bad’ job search habits that might be standing in their way.

Great topic! I’ve been a long believer in the CONDUCT model — the notion that learning is developmental in nature and deeper levels of learning come from increasingly active approaches to learning, applying and extending. This whole discussion seems to me to be a great plug for work-integrated learning for youth — that helping them to balance time in the classroom with hands-on experience in the labour market (early and often!) will ultimately help them in their school-to-work transition.

I believe that we learn best when we apply what we learn through practical experience and sharing those experiences with others.
I employ the concepts of active learning with clients through sharing case scenarios, story-sharing, and journaling. I also encourage discussion by asking clients relevant, thought-provoking questions related to self-reflection and exploration.
I also enjoyed the talk on neurosculpting. Bad habits can be changed through replacing them with positive habits on the subconscious level, but there needs to be a firm commitment to want to change those habits. Visualization, positive affirmation, and positive self-talk are effective techniques in dissolving self-limiting beliefs that can impede success. I agree with Skye that this is very important in the job search.

I am very much a person that cannot learn just through theory – I need to put into practice. So I ensure that I do this with my student clientelle. They get enough of academia and need to have experiences to enhance and compliment what we are trying to learn.

Lori, I agree with you that the discussion of neurosculpture was enjoyable and I want to explore this more

A mentality that I see in my clients is one of scarcity. “There isn’t enough work. There isn’t enough opportunity. The world is changing and I’m being left behind. ” I think with active learning, we can figure out how to reprogram how we see things like the neuro sculpting clip that you both mentioned, Skye and Lori. With my clients, it’s about asking questions like, “how do you know? What leads you to believe that? What evidence do you have that this is the way that it is?” And then starting to look for opportunities. And I think that once we can reprogram our brains to see opportunities, a whole new world of possibility opens up. I enjoyed Dave’s lecture as well which talked about knowing ourselves and pursuing those areas that were learning comes easily for us. Again as career professionals, it’s helping our clients tap into that. So much of what I talk to my clients about is about getting real information – stepping away from online research to have conversations and ask questions. I also think volunteering can be an amazing way for job seekers to explore their interests and expand their horizons in a way that promotes active learning.

Completely agree with your Kristin.

I often say to my students – you don’t know what you don’t know – so, how are we going to get to know?

This is a great topic and I have really enjoyed the videos – interesting to watch the Death of Lectures – the tertiary institute where I work has been online for many years now and our lecture theatres have really grown to be dim and unused rooms. Students are so busy having to work to support themselves and we also have many mature age enrolments who also have family responsibilities that they do not have the time to attend lectures and would prefer to listen online at a time convenient to them. This has greatly benefited our Careers unit as students are very confident using online systems and we are now using modern technology such as Blackboard, Adobe Connect, Skype and everything else we can get our hands on for students to gain knowledge. We are also using these platforms for Work Integrated Learning – hands on experience to complement the theory they learn.