Are lectures really that bad? (Some suggestions to make them engaging)

It seems more and more in today’s education that ‘lecturing’ in the traditional sense has a bad reputation.  I find that as I have the opportunity to teach a course over and over again, then I can discover and implement new ideas to enhance learning and move away from the traditional lecture format. But when I teach a new class, sometimes I feel like I am just treading water and trying not to sink!

GIF retrieved from:

I really enjoyed Brookfield’s suggestions in The Skillful Teacher, as I believe especially when you have a short period of time to establish a broad outline of material, lecturing is still a valuable format. I really find the traditional classroom setting pictured above to not be the most interactive or comfortable learning environment. I have always enjoyed either creating a round table or small group seating, I find this is a lot more conducive to discussion and interaction with the instructor. Or the “Teaching from Siberia” concept which I have used many times, helps bring a different atmosphere to the class and can increase student engagement.  One more thought for creating an engaging lecture, is to start the class with a summative questions related to the lecture material. Throughout the lesson, return to the summative questions, and determine through a quick CAT (clickers, show of hands) if the questions had been answered. Finally, review the questions at the end of the class to ensure clarity. You can open the following days lesson with a review of these questions as well. Hopefully some of these tips you will find useful in creating a more effective lecture until you can find a way to replace it!!


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