Should You Lecture Your Students?
When you hear the word lecture, what comes to mind? Do you envision an instructor standing in front of the class talking for hours about a subject hoping that they have something interesting to say, or do you picture an instructor who is engaging and has a dynamic presentation? From the instructor’s perspective, the class lecture is a required element of traditional classroom teaching. Within an online classroom, lectures take the form of informational messages, weekly summaries, and announcements. From the students’ perspective, a lecture can be nothing more than endless information that they may or may not process and they may or may not remember. If your goal is to dispense information then a stand and deliver presentation is all that you need. If your goal is to connect with students in a meaningful way and you want to inspire them to learn and connect with information, you need to consider techniques for engaging them with the material you are presenting.
Students have a great deal of information that they are processing at any given time in your class. When they walk into the classroom they do not automatically stop thinking about their day, responsibilities, or any other pressing demands. In addition, they have assignments to consider, course requirements to complete, and learning objectives to meet. When you first begin a lecture students will develop a perception about that presentation and either choose to listen or ignore what you have to say. It is important to begin that lecture with something engaging, whether it is a story, overview, or discussion about how this presentation is relevant to the class and the process of learning. Once you have students’ initial interest, then you must build from that in an interactive manner.
An effective method of creating a lecture that enhances the process of learning is to develop an outline. Start by considering the subject matter you want to work with and then divide those topics into sections that you can address throughout the allotted time. Next, consider learning activities that you can interject throughout the lecture. This may be a class discussion, a question-and-answer session, a presentation by a guest lecturer, a group activity, an individual activity, an assessment, or a presentation delivered by your students. The purpose of including learning activities is to draw students into the process of learning. It helps to connect their experience and knowledge to the subject matter and it further stimulates their interest.
Finally, the most important aspect of delivering a dynamic lecture is to consider how you communicate. You can choose to either talk at students or talk to them and engage their thinking, which will prompt cognitive development and critical analysis skills. You also want to avoid talking up or talking down to students which is another barrier to communication that can disengage students and prevent them from listening. Another important aspect of communication is your tone. If your voice sounds warm and inviting students will feel encouraged to listen and participate. The most important goal of delivering a class lecture is not to establish your authority, but rather to lead your students through the process of learning and encourage them to be active participants.