Effective Lecture Is Possible [workshop notes]

An effective lecture is possible according to this workshop I attended. I was surprised how many strategies can be used in a lecture to help a student learn.


The traditional lecture and the reasons for using them are being challenged today. Technology and pedagogical research present major challenges for the traditional lecture. Lecturers drone on and students are bored. But lectures are still useful when there is a large number of students to teach. This workshop looks at how you can make lectures worthwhile for students and strategies for making them more interactive.


By the end of this session you should be able to:

  1. State what you want to achieve with lectures
  2. Design lectures with a clear sense of how students are learning
  3. Create more interactive lectures
  4. Incorporate feedback in lectures

Activities Employed During the Workshop

One-minute paper – I was asked to write down the one thing that I want want to know that will help me in your teaching. (My response: “how to engage my students”)

Introduction to lecturing – The instructor asked us what we think are the pros and cons of lecturing? What is the purpose of lectures? How do students learn in lectures?

Poll on aspects of lectures. The instructor posted some aspects of lectures and ask us to vote: which are the most important to me, and which the least. He asked us to discuss the results of the poll.

What can lectures achieve? The instructor asked us to discuss what we want lectures to achieve in relation to our particular topics.



My learning points:

Establishing the relevance of my topic. Engage students’ interest through letting them know why what you are talking about is relevant to them

I should chunk my lectures: small group discussion in lectures, using clickers and other means of getting feedback. How should lectures be structured given that people cannot pay attention for more than ten minutes? Chunk the lectures up with concepts check, feedback and more.

It is possible to make lectures effective and productive.

Possible strategies include:

  1. Work conceptually, not with details
  2. Chunking – think in ten-minute brackets
  3. Frequent feedback – create opportunities to find out where students are up to. Use Kahoot.
  4. Students interact – talk to neighbours

Resources for an effective lecture

  1. Twenty ways to make lectures more participatory – Harvard University
  1. Presentation tips for teachers (TEDxOsaka)

  • Variety
  • Doing (Students teach). “Nothing clarifies ideas better than explaining them to others.” – Eric Mazur
  • Move
  • Visuals should be visual. “Storytelling is a harmonious blend of images, narration, evidence and support.”
  1. Confessions of a Converted Lecturer by Eric Mazur (abridged version)

Mazur advocated a shift from teaching to helping students learn.

  1. Peer Instruction for Active Learning