Engaging All Learners

Habits of Thought and Practice: Examining the Lecture (Part 1 of 3)

by Katie Beres, Instructional Liaison

Growing as instructors requires reflecting on our habits: habits of thought and practice. I define a habit as an internalized behavior or thought process. For many of us, we were taught with lecture as a primary learning strategy. Lecture is a habit that many of us are revisiting as we experience a tension of how we were taught compared to what our students expect of us now. In this three part series, I will share with you my process of transforming my habits of thought regarding preparation for lecture and the habit of practice for using technologies to facilitate learning.

My habits for preparing for my lecture were challenged by my perception that my students weren’t engaged as much as they could be during class. They weren’t performing in the way that I wanted. Intuitively, I knew that I could make their learning environment better and I began to examine my habits. In my reflection, I noticed that my preparation process emphasized PowerPoint. A lot. I worked completely within PowerPoint as a means of preparing my lecture. I wrote out my points in bullets or paragraphs onto slides and whittled them down until I had my talking points covered. Working in PowerPoint inadvertently emphasized what I wanted to say and not what I wanted my students to learn.

Working in PowerPoint not only encouraged me to think more about me rather than my students’ learning, but by working within the tool, I restricted my own creativity for imagining my students’ learning experience. In order to separate my learning from the tools that supported the facilitation of the learning, I created my own version of a course design template. I used a simple outline to frame the learning goals, specific objectives for the lecture, the content and activities within class, and related assessments.

This shift in my habit of thought was small, but significant for me. I moved from allowing a tool to influence how I designed my learning experiences, to freeing myself to imagine a class session in any way possible with learning objectives as my guide. In my next post, I will discuss how I continue the preparation process by using learning objectives to make decisions about the learning strategies or activities I use in class.

Until then, what strategies do you use to keep your students’ learning present in your mind first before thinking about tools you may use in your lecture? Post your ideas below.


1 thought on “Habits of Thought and Practice: Examining the Lecture (Part 1 of 3)”

  1. Love the distinction between “habits of thought” and “habits of practice” — especially because it reminds us to be goal-minded, rather than tool-minded.

    In my own practice, I like to list on the board or on a handout key goals for a session, so people can track where we’re headed. And in my own notes, I try to highlight key points/concepts, to ensure I stay focused on what THEY need, not just on what I want to say!


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