Teaching a SAIL Class

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 and the SAIL TA Training.

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.


Basics of the SAIL class
Planning in-class activities
Running in-class activities
Making videos for content delivery
Assessments and grading


The SCALE-UP Project: A Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs
How Does Technology-Enabled Active Learning Affect Undergraduate Students’ Understanding of Electromagnetism Concepts?
Increased Structure and Active Learning Reduce the Achievement Gap in Introductory Biology
Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics


Bank of in-class activities
Videos of active classes
Managing Group Dynamics
Overview of active learning from SCALE-UP programs