The lecture can be an immensely effective tool in the classroom, allowing an instructor to provide an overarching theme that organizes material in an illuminating and interesting way. The instructor must take care, however, to shape the lecture for the specific audience of students who will hear it and to encourage those students to take an active and immediate part in learning the material. It is essential to see lectures as a means of helping students learn to think about the key concepts of a particular subject, rather than primarily as a means of transferring knowledge from instructor to student.
PreparingDuring the LectureAfter the LectureLinks and References
The human brain has independent processing streams for visual and verbal information (Baddely, 1992). Research has shown that dual-channel processing is better than single channel, or that learning can be improved when instruction includes both visual and verbal information (Mayer, 2005). Incorporating visuals into your lecture can help your students learn. However, make sure that each visual has a clear purpose, and design your visuals carefully. For example, reduce or eliminate extraneous information, highlight key phrases or ideas, and place keywords in close proximity to the graphics they describe. Each of these strategies can enhance learning when using visuals (Mayer, 2008).
The lecture should have a clear structure, with a beginning, middle, and end. It should relate back to the previous lecture. The lecture should have an overarching theme or objective that fits the course as a whole.
Return to top.
The more an instructor interacts with the students during a lecture, the more active the learning will be. The judicious use of questions throughout a class session can move the lecture forward, engage the students, increase the use of higher-order thinking processes, and make the lecture more interesting.
Take time at the beginning of class to connect the day’s ideas, concepts, or problems to material that you presented in the previous class and to the overarching themes of the course.
Speak with your colleagues about their approaches and ideas. Stay abreast of new scholarship on teaching and teaching with technology. Arrange to have one of your classes observed or videotaped so that an observer can help you evaluate what went well and what you can do to improve student learning. To schedule a class observation or videotaping, contact The Teaching Center at 935-6810.
Lectures are the major teaching method employed in many academic departments and schools. As you reflect on how best to prepare and deliver lectures, keep in mind that a primary goal should be to foster critical thinking and active learning.
Baddeley, A. (1992). Working memory. Science, 255, 556-559.
Bonwell, Charles C. and Eison, James A. "Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom." National Teaching and Learning Forum. ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education. http://www.oid.ucla.edu/about/units/tatp/old/lounge/pedagogy/downloads/active-learning-eric.pdf
Bunce, D. M., Flens, E A., & Neiles, K. Y. (2010). How long can students pay attention in class? A study of student attention decline using clickers. Journal of Chemical Education, 87, 1438-1443.
Davis, Barbara Gross. "Preparing to Teach the Large Lecture Course." Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 1993.
Davis, Barbara Gross. "Delivering a Lecture." Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 1993.
DeYoung, C. G., Hasher, L., Djikic, M., Criger, B., & Peterson, J. B. (2007). Morning people are stable people: Circadian rhythm and the higher-order factors of the Big Five. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(2), 267-276.
Freitas, A. L., & Higgins, E. T. (2002). Enjoying Goal-Directed Action: The Role of Regulatory Fit. Psychological Science, 13(1), 1-6.
May, C. P., Hasher, L., & Stoltzfus, E. R. (1993). Optimal Time of Day and the Magnitude of Age Differences in Memory. Psychological Science, 4(5), 326-330.
Mayer, R. E. (2005). Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. In R. E. Mayer, & R. E. Mayer (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. (pp. 31-48). New York, NY US: Cambridge University Press.
Mayer, R. E. (2008). Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction. American Psychologist, 63(8), 760-769.
McKeachie, Wilbert, et al. McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 12th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Reisberg, D., & Heuer, F. (2004). Memory for Emotional Events. In D. Reisberg, & P. Hertel (Eds.), Memory and emotion. (pp. 3-41). New York, NY US: Oxford University Press.
© 2009, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis