Background and Goals

The Active Learning Classroom (ALC) concept

Active Learning Classrooms are teaching and learning spaces designed to foster students’ active engagement in their own learning.

The ALCs at McGill were developed under the supervision of the Teaching and Learning Spaces Working Group (TLSWG). This working group used the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) benchmarks of effective educational practice to develop the Principles for Designing Teaching and Learning Spaces. The choice of the NSSE benchmarks was influenced by the fact that McGill participates in the NSSE survey (summary results are available from Analysis, Planning and Budget). The design of the ALCs was also informed by other institutions’ practices, including the University of Minnesota and the SCALE-UP project, and a review of relevant research.


Sample view of an ALC design
Arts 150, a recently renovated Active Learning Classroom

Principles addressed in ALC design

Four of the principles of effective educational practice are fostered within these classrooms:

  1. Student-faculty interaction
  2. Active and collaborative learning
  3. Enriching educational experiences
  4. Supportive campus environment

An ALC support team assists professors in taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the ALCs. McGill University’s teaching, learning, and technology units collaborate to provide enhanced support to instructors and students in these classrooms.


Goals of the ALC project

  • Develop effective pedagogical and technological support models for instructors.
  • Develop an integrated approach to instructor support involving all relevant pedagogical and technical support units (working group).
  • Generate knowledge about teaching and learning in ALCs based largely on instructor and student experiences.
  • Identify best practices that may be applied to other teaching and learning contexts.


While this web page is accessible worldwide, McGill University is on land which has served and continues to serve as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. Teaching and Learning Services acknowledges and thanks the diverse Indigenous peoples whose footsteps mark this territory on which peoples of the world now gather. This land acknowledgement is shared as a starting point to provide context for further learning and action.

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