Teaching Seminar
Spring 1997

Lecture pointers

There are several approaches to the exchange of knowledge, but the most commonly used (not necessarily always the best) is the lecture method. Given that, the lecture can be effective or a disaster depending upon the presentation. There are several aspects of lectures that warrant attention:

  • how many points should be covered in a given amount of time? Too many can be overwhelming, but too few may not fill the time allotted.
  • communicate more than content to listeners: use body language / pauses in vocalizations to indicate time for questions / catch up time for notes, etc.
  • a lecture outline may help students follow lecture and organize notes.
  • pros / cons of standing behind lectern vs. moving around
  • gestures are important to make / emphasize points
  • using board can be helpful: keeps lecture at slower pace, helps students take organize notes; but, need to be careful that students don't think that only what is written down is important.
  • use of overheads: can illustrate points and change listener focus. They also help break monotony of lecture.
  • need to practice moderating voice volume and intonation
  • don't talk to the board
  • we'll talk about fielding questions / class discipline in later lecture
  • use of demonstrations: moves learning into a more active mode
  • Issues: Small classes v. Large Classes

    Different approaches may work better for large or small classes. One of the major challenges in large classes is getting the students involved in discussion etc. (active learning versus passive learning). Also, as class size grows, it is more difficult to coordinate projects, grade assignments, etc.. A nice summary of the literature on the class size issue will be given as a class handout (written by Ludy T. Benjamin).

    Other Methods of Teaching

  • active learning: learn by doing; gets student involved; is more applied; is more "real" ; studies show better retention
  • use of technology: brings in resources not traditionally available (computer demos, nicer presentation of materials; "guest lectures from afar", etc.)
  • forming groups: breaks from traditional "teacher-at-front" presentation; students more likely to share ideas and help each other learn
  • internship / placement: allows student to apply what has been taught
  • projects: generally build research skills; allows more in depth study of topic; can link book info to real world
  • service-learning: learning by teaching or using what was learned in class to help some aspect of the community. (learning by teaching is method with high retention of information)