Lecturing Effectively

Whether face-to-face or remote, there are strategies you can use to make your lectures more effective for all learners. Here are a few key points to start with: 

Structure the lecture clearly 

    • Start your lecture with an agenda and a short review of the previous class.  
    • State the learning goals for the lecture clearly. 
    • Throughout, connect the content to previous material and overall course and program outcomes.  
    • “Chunk” content into appropriate sections with clear transitions between topics. 
    • End your lecture with a preview of what’s to come (and reminders of upcoming assignments, etc.). 

Strive to engage your whole class 

    • Be aware of shifting engagement levels. Adjust your plans as needed to spend more time on what students are struggling with or want to talk more about. 
    • Ask first, then tell. Prompt students to engage by asking questions rather than simply telling them information. 
    • Provide breaks during long classes. 
    • Use questions to prompt students to think about how the material relates to their life experience. Making the material relevant helps students retain the information. 
    • Invite student questions and use them in class.  
    • Consider posting your partial notes or slides online before or immediately after class. You might also consider making the audio or video of your lectures available online. Encourage students to take notes. To help students make good notes, provide a clear structure for the lecture and use a pace that allows them to keep up. Pause regularly so that students can ask for clarification. 
    • Convey your enthusiasm for the material and the students. Vary your vocal speed and pitch, as well as your facial expressions. Consider using humour when appropriate. 
    • Provide opportunities for students to practice and/or apply the content. 
    • Provide opportunities for interaction (student-student, student-teacher, student-self). For ideas for active learning strategies, check out these Active Learning Cards. 

 Use engaging and accessible materials 

    • Use visual aids to stimulate and focus students’ attention. Multimedia aids using sound, colour, and/or animations can help to attract and maintain students’ attention. Visual aids should be a support for, not the focus of, your lecture. They also should not replace your personal interaction with the students. 
    • Avoid writing everything that you say on your slides. Consider providing partial or skeleton slides that leave space for students to write down examples and other notes. 
    • Follow the guidelines on good slide design. If you are using PowerPoint, aim for twelve to twenty slides for a fifty-minute lecture. Be conscious of speeding through the slides and/or overloading students with content—common problems with these types of media. 
    • Consider creating visual aids during the lecture. Solving problems, showing processes, or building models in real time is often clearer for students than seeing completed work.  
    • Consider providing an outline of the lecture material in advance for students to annotate. 
    • If you show a video in class, ensure that captions are turned on. 

For more suggestions, see Lecturing Effectively from the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence.