5 Common Active Learning Challenges to Address Faster


Conquer your educational journey by overcoming common active learning challenges! Dive into strategies for students to address these common hurdles swiftly and embrace the full potential of an engaging learning experience.

Explore fear of participation, question formulation, time management, lack of confidence, and resource limitations. Your guide to turning these common active learning challenges into stepping stones for success starts here!

5 Common Active Learning Challenges to Address Faster

Active learning is an instructional approach that engages students in the learning process through meaningful activities and thoughtful reflection. Unlike traditional lecture-based learning where students passively receive information, active learning emphasizes students’ active participation and contribution. While this approach has many benefits like improved student engagement, deeper learning, and enhanced critical thinking skills, it also comes with some common challenges for students. In this article, we will discuss some “common active learning challenges” students may face and strategies to address them for more effective learning.

Overcoming these common obstacles to active learning is crucial for students to fully leverage its advantages. With proper guidance and support from instructors, students can develop strategies and skills to tackle any challenges active learning presents. The ability to participate meaningfully, ask insightful questions, manage time effectively, contribute ideas confidently, and adapt to limitations are key to mastering active learning and becoming self-directed, life-long learners.

Earlier, we published this list of “314 Active Learning Techniques for Teachers and Learners PDF Download“. This new article offers tips and advice to help students recognize these “common active learning challenges” and take proactive steps to resolve them.

5 Common Active Learning Challenges:

1. Fear of Participation

Many students feel apprehensive about actively participating in class discussions or activities. They may fear being wrong, sounding unintelligent, or being judged by their peers. This fear of participation can prevent students from contributing ideas, asking questions, and engaging fully in collaborative work.

To help overcome this, instructors can create a safe and supportive classroom culture that encourages intellectual risk-taking. Using collaborative activities rather than individual presentations, welcoming anonymous feedback, and emphasizing the value of mistakes can make participation less daunting.

2. Difficulty Formulating Questions

Asking thoughtful questions is a vital skill in active learning, but students often struggle with formulating good questions. Questions may be too vague, not open-ended, or not spark deeper thinking.

Instructors can provide question stems or prompts to guide students in crafting more insightful questions. Teaching students how to ask clarifying questions, make connections to previous material, or frame questions from different perspectives will lead to richer active learning.

3. Time Management and Prioritization

Balancing active learning with other academic work and allocating sufficient time can be difficult for students. They may procrastinate on pre-class preparation or post-class reflections.

Instructors can suggest tools like timeboxing, mind mapping, or the Priority Matrix to help students estimate tasks, schedule time accordingly, and prioritize active learning assignments. Clear timelines, guidance on workload, and check-ins can further help students develop time management skills.

4. Lack of Confidence in Contributions

Even when students complete active learning tasks, some may doubt the value of their perspectives, insights, or ideas. Imposter syndrome, fear of criticism, or lack of self-efficacy can undermine students’ confidence in their contributions.


Instructors should emphasize that active learning requires a diversity of views. Modeling active listening, constructive feedback, and respectful communication among peers can help build students’ confidence.

5. Technical Difficulties or Resource Limitations

From software glitches to a lack of devices, students may encounter technical or resource-related challenges to active learning. Instructors can suggest workarounds like using mobile phones or public computers.

Peer support and teaching technology tips can also help students adapt. Most importantly, openly communicating limitations with instructors is key to finding solutions.

Test out to know whether your learning style includes active learning. Read this article we wrote earlier about “5 Best Ways to Test Your Learning Style“. This will help you make sure you understand your challenges better.

Tips for Addressing Active Learning Challenges

While the obstacles to active learning may seem daunting at first, there are many effective strategies students can adopt to overcome these common challenges:

  • Seek clarification from instructors if you are unsure about assignments or expectations for active learning tasks. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  • Find a study buddy or form a study group with peers to discuss ideas, collaborate on projects, and keep each other motivated.
  • Take advantage of office hours or tutoring services offered by your instructor or institution for additional support.
  • Set aside dedicated time slots for active learning assignments in your schedule so they don’t fall by the wayside.
  • Leverage tools like agenda calendars, to-do lists, and reminder alerts to help prioritize active learning tasks and manage your time.
  • Break down large assignments into smaller, more manageable chunks to make active learning activities feel less overwhelming.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and contribute your perspective during class activities and discussions—your ideas provide valuable diversity.
  • Come prepared with questions or discussion points before class to make participation in activities easier.
  • Treat mistakes and occasional failures as opportunities for growth rather than reasons to disengage.
  • Communicate openly with your instructor if you are struggling with any aspects of active learning so they can provide guidance.

Taking proactive steps like these can help students overcome challenges and succeed with active learning approaches. The key is maintaining an open mindset focused on growth and collaboration. With practice and perseverance, active learning gets easier!

You should also read this article we wrote earlier to understand how exactly you must learn; “Which Learning Style is Best for You?


Active learning can sometimes be hindered by challenges like fear of participation, difficulty formulating questions, time management struggles, lack of confidence, and technical limitations. However, these common obstacles are surmountable with the right strategies and support.

As discussed, there are many effective techniques students can use to overcome these “common active learning challenges,” from utilizing instructor office hours to breaking down assignments and seeking peer collaboration. By adopting the tips outlined, students can become more adept at managing time, formulating questions, building confidence in sharing ideas, and overcoming resource limitations.

While adopting active learning may require an adjustment period, the long-term benefits make it worthwhile. Students who embrace participation, hone questioning skills, manage their workload, contribute perspectives, and learn to adapt will gain deeper knowledge, improved metacognition, and transferable skills.

To reap the full advantages of active learning, students must proactively address any challenges that arise along the way. With concerted effort and application of suggested strategies, students can overcome obstacles and unlock their full potential through active learning. The reward will be the ability to thrive independently as life-long learners in any setting.


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