Tips from the Pros: Promoting Active Learning with Quizlet

Promoting Active Learning with Quizlet

How best to engage students and provide opportunities for active learning is a question we find ourselves thinking about and discussing often with colleagues. Quizlet is a user-friendly, technology-based quizzing system that works well to engage students in both face-to-face and online learning environments. Instructors can use it to create their own study set or browse through and use existing study sets. Study sets consist of groups of questions presenting content that students have reviewed. The content is presented as terms, definitions, pictures, diagrams, and labels, making the program flexible and effective for many disciplines. For example, an anatomy professor could insert pictures or diagrams of the skeletal system, and students may be charged with either labeling or identifying the correct term.

Quizlet has many functions both inside and outside of the classroom. One common use of Quizlet is its flashcard function, which is useful to review course content. In order to engage in the flashcard function, students click on a study set and then click on the flashcard icon. Next, one at a time, a definition is revealed and the student types in a term. The program indicates if the answer is correct and how many terms the student has answered correctly. In addition to flashcards, students can engage in a matching game. For the matching game, students click on a study set and then click on the matching game icon. Next, all the terms and definitions are on the screen in a scattered pattern and the student clicks on a term and drags it to the correct definition. The Gravity game is another popular activity using a video game format where students test their knowledge by answering questions before asteroids hit the ground.

Once you become familiar with Quizlet, there are several additional functions that you may find useful for your particular classroom. For example, in addition to students responding to questions using their mobile device during class, Quizlet has the capacity to convert a study set to a quiz that can be printed and administered in the classroom. The quiz could be analyzed by the instructor as a formative assessment to determine student mastery and guide future instruction.

To implement Quizlet, the instructor creates a free account and then logs in to create content. Next, the instructor develops a study set by typing in content such as words, pictures, diagrams, or labels. After the study set has been created, the instructor can choose to allow others to view the study set or to make it private. In the classroom, the instructor can click on a study set and then click on the icon labeled “live.” At this point, students go to on their smartphones and type in their names. Students do not need to create an account but rather enter the code number provided by Quizlet to join the game. Students work collaboratively in groups designated by Quizlet to answer questions from the study set. The groups of students compete with each other as each group is given a name and their progress is projected on the screen. In addition, Quizlet study sets can be easily linked to platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard to provide quick access for students to study outside of class.

Quizlet is just one example of a growing number of game-based, online platforms that harness the use of technology to help engage students in learning. In addition to Quizlet, Kahoots is a game-based, online platform that could be used for student learning. One particular advantage of these types of programs is that it encourages students to use their mobile devices as another study tool rather than as a social media distraction in the classroom.

Quizlet also appeals to a variety of student personalities and learning styles. For example, introverted students can more directly show their engagement with course content because they can interact without necessarily having to raise their hand and speak out in class. On the flip side, talkative students can participate without monopolizing classroom discussion. In regards to learning style, platforms such as Quizlet appeal to kinesthetic learners who prefer variety, change, and a faster-paced atmosphere over the traditional quiet, and sometimes slow, style of listening to lectures and taking notes. Although there is not yet a lot of empirical research on the effectiveness of these types of online, game-based learning platforms, studies are gradually starting to appear. These early studies indicate increased student interest and motivation in course content when presented in these innovative formats. These interactive programs can also bring renewed energy to professors as we continually look for teaching strategies that keep our students’ attention and lead to deeper learning. To get started with Quizlet, go to

Amy Mullins is an assistant professor of education and Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz is an assistant professor of psychology at Bluffton University.

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