Lectures and Large Classes


Teaching large lecture classes can present problems for even the most experienced faculty members. It can be difficult to keep students' attention and elicit questions, responses, or other forms of interaction with the lecture material and the instructor. The links in this section provide strategies for improving lecturing techniques as well as methods for getting students more actively involved in a large lecture class.


General Resources

Designing Smart Lectures (University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching and Learning Services).
A tutorial on designing effective lectures. Offers two video workshops, one on large lecture classes and the other on principles of good lecturing. Also includes information on planning, delivering, and evaluating lectures.

Improving Lecturing Skills: Some Insights from Speech Communication (Indiana University, Office for Learning Resources).
Pluses and pitfalls of lecturing plus ways to improve as a lecturer.

A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in Teaching," Tom Drummond (North Seattle Community College).
A compilation of “practices that constitute excellence in college teaching,” with explanations and examples of each item under twelve general categories such as Lecture Practices, Active Learning, Group Discussion Triggers, etc. Footnoted references cite the research base for each teaching method.

Engaging Students in the Classroom and Beyond:  Arthur F. Thurnau Professors (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan).
This website offers links to two videos of U of M’s award-winning faculty members discussing and demonstrating how they engage students in large classes, plus downloadable PDFs of the guidelines and strategies they found effective.  A third video contains interviews with six other awardees explaining their approach to teaching with a particular emphasis on engagement.  

"Learning with Lectures," Robert Kozma. (CRLT Occasional Papers #4, 1994, University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching). PDF/Adobe Acrobat.
This paper focuses on ways to support student earning in a lecture class. Includes what research tells us about student learning and specific methods to help students understand.

Delivering Effective Lectures (JHPIEGO, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University).
Techniques for planning, delivering, and evaluating effective lectures, including interactive lectures.

"The 'Change-Up' in Lectures," Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish. (TRC Newsletter 8:1, Fall 1996, Indiana University, Campus Instructional Consulting).
Explains why students have so much difficulty attending to lectures and suggests activities to "break up" lectures to keep students' attention and get them actively involved with the material being presented.

Active Learning in Large Classes (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Center for Instructional and Professional Development).
This site provides an interactive tutorial on active learning. Seven video clips, each accompanied by a Word document tutorial, demonstrate active learning strategies in action in large classes: clickers, learning teams, discussions, and other in-class activities. Requires QuickTime for videos.

"Beating the Numbers Game: Effective Teaching in Large Classes," Richard M. Felder (North Carolina State University)
Offers in-class exercises and out-of-class group assignments to involve students more actively in large classes. Also includes a list of general ideas for more effective teaching in large classes.

"Tips for Using Questions in Large Classes," Daniel J. Klionsky (University of California-Davis).
Methods for encouraging students in large classes to ask questions and interact with the instructor from the first day of class.

"Research on Student Notetaking: Implications for Faculty and Graduate Student Instructors," Deborah DeZure, Matthew Kaplan, Martha Deerman. (CRLT Occasional Paper #16, 2001, University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching).
This article reviews research on notetaking and students' review of their notes; includes lecture strategies that support effective notetaking and ways to support students with disabilities. Provides a handout for students: Student Guide to Effective Notetaking and Review.

Virtual Note Taking Guides at Michigan State University Libraries
Directions for virtual note taking in the world of cyberspace, apps, mobile devices, and cloud storage.

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