Lectures are the most common way of teaching at CBS, and yet a very challenging one. The lecture as a teaching method is basically characterized by one-way communication, from lecturer to students. This is also why it is very challenging since studies have shown that student concentration during lectures drops dramatically after about 20 minutes.
Lecturing is especially fitted for arousing student curiosity and motivation to learn, to give an overview of a subject, or to give an assembled background knowledge summary that is not otherwise available. Although this teaching method is very common, it is under pressure for many reasons. First of all, this method often leaves students as passive spectators. However, it does not necessarily have to be so.
Presentations will always be a part of teaching at universities. Moreover, no matter how many students you have in your classroom, presentations can be broken up by short student activities which can improve the outcome. Lecturers are expected to be more dynamic, to encourage active learning, and to engage students rather than deliver a monologue prompted by notes or PowerPoint.
You can read our document ’10 tips for lecturers’ here.
Talk to individuals
You don’t speak to the floor and you don’t speak to the birds outside the window. You speak to your students, so look at them while you are talking. But don’t look in the eyes of the same student for several minutes, it is too intimate. Look shortly at students sitting in different places in the room. When you address a specific student, use the student’s name if possible (you might have nameplates).
Grab students’ attention
The opening is the most important part, if you lose your students in the first five minutes it will be difficult to bring them on track. Therefore, you have to have to connect with your students they should know and feel that you all have something in common. Although it is nice for the audience to be presented for the program rather quickly after the start, it might not be the best way to catch attention. To grab this you might start with an example, an anecdote, a quiz, or a question. Get an agreement to engage the students from the start and encourage them to ask questions
Your tempo, body, and voice
When you start teaching it will be impossible to manage all the following to perfection. You have to implement it by and by. It is important not to exaggerate these matters, – don’t speak artificially slow or shout to be sure you can be heard. If the back rows have difficulties hearing you, use a microphone if possible. Speak clearly, not too fast, not too slow. However, you probably have to speak slower than you do in a conversation.
Reactions from students
Keep an eye on your student’s reactions. Do they engage, do they listen to you, are they hiding behind the screens of their laptops, do they try to avoid falling asleep? You need to know. If you feel you lose them, ask them, ask what they think you can do better.
- Grab student’s attention in your opening
- Add questions for students to discuss and reflect on in pairs
- Be aware of your body. Use both hands and body to underline points. Move around in the room and try to show enthusiasm about the topic and especially underline how important the students learning is for you
- Talk to individual students
- Keep an eye on the student’s reactions
- Use digital media as video or audio clip to demonstrate examples
- No matter how many students you have in your classroom, presentations can be broken up by short student activities which can improve the outcome
- Be aware of your tempo and your voice – try to vary the intonation of your voice.
- Try to avoid filler words (such as “um”, “er”, or “you know)
- Do not stay in a position where you obscure the screen or the blackboard
- Try to avoid students’ open laptops, if they are not used. Notes can be taken in breaks, and they are most effective if they are written on paper
- Do not turn your back on the students and read from your PowerPoint. If one of your PowerPoints contains a lot of important text, the students can read it themselves.
- Do not speak for too long
- Over-rely on your PowerPoint.