Addressing the Challenges of Lecturing

Effective Lectures
Characteristics of the Effective versus Ineffective Lecture (Sullivan and MacIntosh, 1996)
This paper discusses interactive lectures, compares effective and ineffective lecture characteristics, and explores the question of when lecture is appropriate.

Organizing a Lecture
IDEA Paper #46 Effective Lecturing
This paper describes ways to organize a lecture. A basic tenet of lecturing is to, “Tell students what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and finally, tell them what you told them.” Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. (2011). McKeachie's teaching tips: strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers(13th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. A research-based guide to college teaching methods, this book has a useful section on lecturing, pages 57-73.

Speaking Skills
IDEA Paper #24 Improving Instructor Speaking Skills
An effective instructor does NOT want their lecture delivery to distract from the information being imparted. This paper spells out how to avoid having the voice and body distract during a lecture.

Classroom Authority
An instructor can be sure to avoid behaviors that could lessen authority and get clear about behaviors for Enhancing Classroom Authority by having a colleague or a CITL staff consultant use this Classroom Authority Rubric during a live or videotaped class session.

Building Rapport
Learning student names goes a long way toward developing a positive classroom dynamic and facilitating the students' overall learning experience. Learning Student Names is a compilation of over two dozen strategies and activities which will help instructors quickly learn students' names. Several of the methods encourage students to learn each others' names as well.

Clear Goals
McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. P. (1999). Understanding by design : handbook / Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. Alexandria, Va. : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Effective lecturers are clear about what they want students to DO by the end of the lecture. The Backward Design process starts with intended outcomes and works backwards from there to align course activities and content.

Attention Span
While the individual learning styles research has been debunked (Pashler, 2009), recent studies have found that human brains do benefit from variety during the learning process. Because students have an attention span of around 15 to 20 minutes at the start of class, instructors will do well to manage students’ attention by interspersing mini-lectures with student practice, building a ‘change–up’ into class to restart the attention clock (Middendorf & Kalish, 1994). The ‘Change-Up’ in Lectures describes more than 20 practical strategies for breaking up lectures with activities that help keep students engaged in the learning.

Why lecture so much?
Henderson, C. & Dancy, M. (2007). Barriers to the use of research-based instructional strategies. Physical Review Special Topics: Physics Research 3(2).
Many scientifically proven teaching strategies have been have been developed for teaching introductory courses. However, without support during implementation, faculty tend to choose traditional teaching methods (lecture and dumbing down the course) rather than moving in the direction of newer, research-based practices.

Peer Learning in Large Classes
Confessions of a Converted Lecturer
Eric Mazur (Physics/Harvard) explains in this video how he converted from lecturing to using his class for peer instruction. Students get their first exposure to the content outside of class, answering homework questions. The questions they ask about the homework become the basis for his just-in-time lectures, which are interspersed with group discussion. Mazur rigorously tests his teaching techniques.