Creating an Effective Lecture

Combining short lectures with active learning keeps students engaged. This also allows the instructor to provide context and information. Remember, a lecture is not a paper. The types of things that may make for a good paper (e.g., analytic detail and deep engagement with the literature) don’t make for good presentations.

Don’t try to cram all of your knowledge on a given subject into a lecture. Your purpose is to help your students learn. Do this best by limiting the number of points you make and the information you provide. Students will retain more if you provide them with less material.

  • Have one central topic and a few main points
  • Tell students what you will cover and how you will do so
  • Put the material in context (explain how it relates to the course as a whole)
  • At the end, reiterate the main points

In addition:

  • Avoid complex sentence construction
  • Use simple, direct language
  • Offer aural guides along the way (e.g., “The second argument against…”)
  • Use illustrations and memorable examples
  • Don’t simply go over the textbook or reading material