Enhancing the Effectiveness of Lectures

  • Structure lecture carefully, provide a solid framework into which student can fit new knowledge, show framework to students
  • Signposts can provide student with clear signals to help them appreciate direction, links, and points of separation between parts of content. Make explicit links between present and past or future lectures.
  • State educational intent at the beginning (in terms of objectives/learning outcomes) so students know what you expect them to achieve.
  • Do not overload students with content, students learn more when information density is not too high.
  • Continue to show students the lecture outline.
  • Provide summaries of main points at end of sections and end of session.
  • Provide students with opportunities to apply new materials as soon as possible
  • Help students take good notes - concept maps, spray diagrams, mind maps. Publish full lecture notes. Allow students to check notes against those of other student.
  • Use handouts, such as gapped handouts.
  • Change demands on students every 10-15 minutes to ensure attention.
  • Make lectures more active by requiring student participation

Enhanced lecture: a series of short, mini-lectures punctuated by specific active learning events designed to meet the class objectives. The following activities can be used to interject active learning events into a lecture.

  • Pause Procedure: Stop the lecture every 15-20 minutes and let student compare notes. Students generally discover something new in the other person’s notes.
  • Short Writes: One- to three-minute writing assignments focusing on a question, such as, “What was the main idea presented in this portion of the lecture?” Or “What questions remained unanswered?”
  • Think-Pair-Share: A widely used technique in which two students discuss a given question for two or three minutes, then share their results in a large class discussion.
  • Formative Quizzes: Ungraded questions used to gauge student comprehension. Instructors can ask students to use thumbs-up/thumbs-down hand signals to indicate if they agree or disagree with a statement. Instructors can also poll students with multiple-choice questions asking for a show of hands as each option is stated.
  • Topic Synthesis: Students, rather than instructors, summarize the key points of the previous portion of the lecture.
  • Focused Listing: Ask students to create a list in response to a specific question (e.g., list the advantages of both the North and the South going into the Civil War).
  • Outline: Provide students with an empty or partially filled outline and ask them to fill in the blanks in a limited time.