7 Helpful Active Learning Activities For Adults

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Editorial Team

Active learning is a format that includes various strategies to constantly be involved in incorporating new knowledge into the brain. While the advantages and disadvantages of this model have been carefully weighed by educators, it is done using debates, problem-solving, case histories, interactive activities, and other strategies. By relating new information to existing knowledge, structuring knowledge, and fortifying brain connections, applying new knowledge assists adults in encoding information, concepts, and abilities in their memories. Active learning also plays a crucial role in being updated with new-age information.

While active learning is essential, it is important to know that regular interactions play a limited role in it. In such situations, active learning activities are of great use for adults. Adults get an opportunity to present their views and ideas through engaging activities. Adults can also rectify and gain a deeper comprehension of the subject by receiving regular and fast feedback. Through activities, adults get insights into different perspectives and opinions as well.

Active learning for adults: Bliss or boon?

Active learning is an important parameter for knowledge upgradation and being quick with thinking skills. Adults get several opportunities to learn about events, world news, and their social surroundings. However, it is crucial to understand that active learning should be conducted in an effective manner that results in an impactful learning environment. It is indeed bliss for adults because no matter what, knowledge acquisition results in higher imaginative skills, communication skills, and brainstorming.

Research[1] was conducted to understand the effects of active learning on old adults. It was found that active learning was a comprehensive way to build health literacy and verbal fluency. It was also found that physical activity, balance ability, and memory were also boosted through active learning. Hence, it can be concluded that active learning, when conducted in a deeper sense of understanding, leads to better results in adults.

Engaging active learning activities for adults

Active learning is an important component in everyday life. As adults keep learning, they also get an opportunity to broaden their horizons of knowledge. Check interesting activities that help encourage active learning.

1. Brainwriting 


Brainwashing is an essential technique where adults get an opportunity to write their ideas instead of brainstorming with team members. When they write these ideas, they encourage their brain to think differently in a given span of time.

  • To conduct this activity, think of different problems considering the atmosphere
  • Everyday problems, office issues, or social circle problems should be taken for this activity 
  • Give a pen and paper to all participants 
  • Present a crucial problem to them with respect to their area of interest. For example, hierarchy-related issues can be given to employees 
  • Give them 5 minutes to write/draft their solutions
  • Once done, invite an open discussion from the participants

As adults start discussing the solutions, they actively learn about the different perspectives of other participants. Similarly, they can also arrive at more solutions during the discussion.

2. You have a Minute!

You have a Minute!

Individuals have their own strengths and weaknesses, and most of the time, they miss the essence of self-reflection. Active learning helps them become self-aware with this activity.

  • To conduct this activity, let all participants sit in a circle
  • Make different questions and write them in a chit
  • The questions can be the following: 
    • What is your biggest fear in life?
    • How do you take failures in life?
    • Tell us your funniest moment 
  • Ask each participant to pick one chit and don’t let them open
  • Pick one participant and ask him/her to read the question aloud 
  • Each participant should be given one minute to answer the question

The promptness of this activity enables individuals to think instantly and be ready with their answers. Self-reflecting questions also help other individuals learn about aspects of life in a completely different way.

3. The Unique Debate

The Unique Debate

Debates have always been a helpful way to arrive at numerous conclusions. A debate enables one to think out of the box and also accept other people’s opinions.

  • To conduct this activity, divide the participants into groups of 2 members each
  • Set challenging topics for every set of participants
  • Now, make chits – for and against
  • Call 2 teams and ask them to pick the chits
  • Here’s the plot twist; as the debate begins, allow the audience to participate and put forward their say in a harmonious manner
  • The activity goes on till all members have participated 

Active learning is triggered in this activity as individuals hear another side of the story. Each statement stands contradictory, thereby allowing individuals to think and then respond.

4. Fishbowl Group Discussion 

Fishbowl Group Discussion 

Fishbowl is a creative activity that allows adults to actively learn about each other as well as understand the subject matter.

  • To conduct this activity, divide the participants into the inner circle and outer circle 
  • The participants in the inner circle should be actively engaged in the discussion 
  • The participants in the outer circle have to act as observers
  • Allot the topic of discussion and give 5 minutes to the inner circle members 
  • After the discussion, each observer should present his/her views about the participation of the inner circle 
  • After this, switch the participants in the circle and allot another topic 

As participants get to learn about the discussion, they also recognize their strengths and weaknesses during the discussion. In such a discussion, critical thinking is also enabled.

5. What’s your Question?

What's your Question?

Active learning plays an important role through creative thinking and brainstorming. This unique activity helps adults present their views but in the question format only.

  • To conduct this activity, start by writing a question on the whiteboard or a piece of paper
  • Ask adults to actively think about it and let each one raise their hand for further discussion
  • The trick is that each adult should respond only in the question format
  • If any of them replies in a statement format, everyone shouts, “That’s a statement!”
  • For example, if the first question is – Are we leading our way through the current approach?
  • The participants can reply – Are we doing anything about the hierarchy issues that lead to failure in the current approach?

The basic understanding is generated through the core problems of a given situation. Adults engage in active learning as they also learn to communicate their views in a question format.

6. Act and React

Act and React

At times, people do not understand the challenges other people face in their roles. This activity tries to focus on changing roles and making adults understand the significance of empathy and understanding.

  • To conduct this activity, ask participants to sit in a circle
  • Now, ask two participants to get up and switch their roles with each other 
  • This can be done between two employees, two friends, or even two adults
  • Now, give 2 minutes to each adult and tell them to act the positive and negative side of the opponent
  • The activity goes on till all adults have participated at least once

Many times, self-awareness is triggered when adults learn about the impact of their actions on others. Through this activity, they actively learn about themselves and also get an opportunity to reflect on their personal values and morals of life.

7. Do, Learn, and Share

Do, Learn, and Share

Adults get to know the impact of their actions, even through experiences. This form of experiential learning boosts active learning as well. This activity focuses on doing, learning, and then sharing experiences with other participants.

  • To conduct this activity, give a similar task to all participants 
  • For example, the task can be:
    • Compliment 5 adults around you
    • Talk to a stranger about his/her life
  • Tasks should be more life-oriented and interactive so as to trigger the learning essence of it
  • After this, ask each one to share their experiences in front of everyone 

Since all adults have a similar task, they get a chance to learn about different experiences. It also reflects how life gives different learning experiences even when adults do the same task. Such learning helps them widen their scope of understanding human emotions in general.

Wrapping up…

Active learning is often confused with passive learning. However, the difference in both is massive as active learning is a classic approach that can also be called an instructional method that engages adults and children in the learning process.

While learning is simpler with study materials, active learning takes a unique approach through the usage of activities, case studies, and analysis of problems. It is significant to know that adults should be engaged in active learning not only to stay updated but also to broaden their scope of knowledge through essential interactions.


  1. Yamada, M., & Okamoto, H. (2018). Effects of Active Learning on Health Literacy and Behavior in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 66(9), 1721–1729. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15458

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