Effective Lectures

A professor stands in front of her class making a point, her students watch in the background.

Effective Lectures

Lectures are best suited for helping students make connections with factual knowledge. Good lectures model expert thinking, tell good stories, and share experiences that provide context and insight.

How Can I Do This?

Lectures are one of the most common methods used by instructors in higher education. They can be very effective if planned carefully and delivered mindfully.

What should the structure of my lecture be?

To write an effective lecture think about the beginning, middle and end. These can be thought of in 3 main ideas: context, content, closure.

What type of lecture do I want to give?

Will you present information in an outline format, defend a thesis with evidence, tell a story, demonstrate a procedure, or solve a problem? Or perhaps a combination of these?

What will support my lecture?

What can help your lecture be more interesting for the students? How can you motivate them to come to class and learn? You can use many tactics, from high tech tools to simply using your body and voice effectively.

How much student interaction should there be in my lecture?

What will the students do? The higher the level of interaction, the higher the retention of information and comprehension of the concepts. Every 15 minutes the students should have to do something with the information.

How will I know if the students have learned from my lecture?

Assess your students frequently. Ways to do this: quick multiple choice quizzes, looking at their notes, using a classroom response system, checking their summaries.

Why Is This Important?

The main reason we lecture is to add something to the information that students acquire through other material. There is no point in simply repeating what the students have already read; you have to give them a reason to come to class. Lectures should enhance information so students can make it their own knowledge. Good lectures:

  • Provide a conceptual framework for the information
  • Assist students in clarifying key concepts
  • Highlight similarities and differences among concepts
  • Share personal insights, experience and anecdotes
  • Summarize and synthesize different sources of information
  • Organize material to better suit your course outcomes
  • Demonstrate application of the concepts
  • Demonstrate how the discipline thinks about evidence, critical thinking, and problem solving
  • Convey a love and enthusiasm for the discipline

Explore More

Students engaged in active learning during class.

Ideas for Active Learning

Appendix from Expeditionary Learning, which shares a wide range of techniques for engaging students.