Using in-class time to help students engage actively with the material is the essence of Structured, Active, In-class Learning (SAIL). Teaching a SAIL class provides students with the opportunity to struggle through the application of course ideas and material, often the most difficult part of learning for students, with guidance from instructors as well as help from their peers. To prepare students for that in-class work, instructors often ask students to master some content before coming to class. Empirical evidence suggests that, if done well, this method of teaching can improve learning for students of all ability and preparation levels. Doing this well, however, requires planning the structured in-class exercises, determining how to guide students’ work with those activities effectively, and, in some courses, transferring some content knowledge to students outside of class.
Consultations and a formal program of support are available for faculty and TAs interested in this teaching. For more information, see the SAIL Program.
SAIL classes often run more effectively in rooms designed for structured, active learning. To learn more about such rooms at Penn and to request one, see Request an active learning classroom.