In the most effective learning environments, undergraduates go beyond memorization to become more deeply engaged with the material. Active learning approaches, in which students participate in activities that result in improved learning, promote this sort of deep experience. Educational theories such as constructivism and recent research in cognitive and learning sciences demonstrate the importance of allowing students opportunities to confront misconceptions, reason out solutions, work collaboratively, and construct their own understandings of key concepts. Numerous studies have documented improved learning in classes using active learning approaches when compared to traditional class formats. Various obstacles to implementing active learning strategies exist, such as student and faculty resistance to such practices and the academic reward structure, which penalizes faculty who invest time in innovative teaching. These obstacles, however, are not insurmountable—effective communication of the benefits of active learning for improving student learning outcomes and the recruitment and retention of STEM majors can help. Paleontology instructors have a wide variety of active learning techniques to choose from, including some that make use of our field's uniquely visual and temporal characteristics (e.g., concept sketches, timelines), current research areas (e.g., textual analysis, case studies, guided inquiry), and classic controversies (e.g., role-playing, debates, and panel discussions). New technologies, such as classroom response devices and Web 2.0 tools, can facilitate many of these activities both in and out of the classroom. Incorporating active learning approaches into paleontology courses can help instructors clarify their course goals and learning outcomes while empowering students to succeed.