Engaging All Learners

Habits of Thought and Practice: Examining the Lecture (Part 2 of 3)

by Katie Beres, Instructional Liaison

In my previous post, I described the process of separating learning from the tools and activities used to facilitate the learning experience in a class. This second post will build on the learning strategies chosen to facilitate the learning for the lecture.

The content of a lecture is driven by what you want students to learn, which is communicated via learning objectives. How your lecture is then delivered is determined by your perception of the lecture itself. Instructors utilize a variety of strategies when delivering a lecture, which emphasize different teaching styles and philosophies of teaching and learning. The table below is a helpful summary of interactive lecture strategies presented in the literature. As you scan through the table, ask yourself:

  • What strategies connect with me?
  • Which strategies seem like they “ wouldn’t work”?

Interactive Lecturing Strategies

This Interactive Lecture Chart provides just a few strategies for making lectures more interactive.  There are numerous others, but these should get you started.

My mental model for a lecture is that of an active, highly participatory workshop with my role being that of a facilitator. My choices for lecture strategies emphasize activities like, think, pair, share; brief 5-10 minute lectures to introduce new topics, clarify misunderstandings, and to make connections; individual reflective writing, and group discussion. While I prepare for a lecture, I outline my learning objectives, sequence my topics, and consider the strategies that best fit the learning and my teaching philosophy. The process is not linear and contains constant revision as I go between my objectives and strategies. As I work, I ask myself, “how does this strategy help my students achieve the learning objectives?”. Three outcomes are possible when I ask myself this question:

  1. The strategy is justified,
  2. The strategy does not fit and is cut, or
  3. My learning objectives need to be changed.

My motto for balancing what remains and what is cut was shared with me by a colleague: “do not force the fun”. This motto helps me keep perspective, especially as my tendency is to do more and add layers of complexity. Cutting an idea does not mean it is useless; instead the idea is not a fit for the desired learning of that class session. The better I am able to guide myself through an intentional process of designing my course sessions with my students’ learning in mind, the better the experience for me and them. I know why I do what I do in my course and can express that to my students and others.

The steps in my shift of habit for thinking about lecture began with separating the learning from the tools by outlining my lecture, then considering the strategies for the course. In my third post, we will address the decision process for using tools and technologies.