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The term "lecturing" refers to both planning and delivering a classroom presentation. While the lecture has certain elements in common with a formal speech, a classroom lecture places greater emphasis on the importance of presenter-audience (instructor-student) interaction.
Below is a brief listing of suggestions for effective lecture preparation and delivery. The suggestions are arranged under one of three phases of a lecture – the introduction, the body, and the closing.
Suggestion: Raise a question to be answered by the end of the lecture.
Example: "By the end of the hour, you should be able to answer the question 'Are essay test questions better than objective test questions?'"
Suggestion: State a historical or current problem related to the lecture content.
Example: "It was conjectured by Gauss that the number of primes up to any point X was less than a certain smooth, easily calculated function of X. This conjecture was supported by extensive numerical evidence. However, in 1914, Littlewood proved that, in fact, the relation becomes false for an infinite sequence of large X's. Let's take a look at Littlewood's reasoning."
Suggestion: Explain the relationship of lecture content to laboratory exercises, homework problems, professional career interests, etc.
Example: "Today, I'll lecture on cost-of-living indices, a topic in macroeconomics which will help you understand the recent discussions in Congress related to inflation."
Suggestion: Relate lecture content to previous class material.
Example: "For the past few weeks, Skinner, Osgood, and others, who take a behaviorist view of language acquisition, have occupied our attention. Today, I'll introduce another, different perspective on language acquisition and learning. We'll spend the rest of this week and the next on understanding this view and comparing it with the behaviorist position."
Alternative: Ask a student to summarize previous course content.
Example: "In Victorian England the conflict between religion and science was well reflected in the literature. Today we'll look at two poems, 'In Memoriam' and 'Dover Beach,' which illustrate this conflict."
Example: "Today I'll offer a specific model of evaluation and illustrate its applicability in several kinds of settings. When you meet in your discussion groups this week, you'll be asked to apply the model as you discuss the Brown v. Board of Education decision."
Example: "In physics, the term 'work' has a precise technical meaning. The work done by a force F when the object on which it acts moves a distance (puts a drawing on the board) is defined by W-F . 'denotes' the work. It is assumed that F does not change much during the motion and can be positive, zero or negative. Now, let's look at this diagram and see how well you understand the definition of work."
Allow for some flexibility in the presentation in order to respond to student questions and comments.
Determine which key points can be effectively developed during the class session. It is necessary to strike a balance between depth and breadth of coverage. When every nuance, detail or instance of a topic is discussed students often lose sight of the main ideas. Or, when too many ideas are presented and not developed, students fail to gain understanding.
Suggested organizational schemes include:
Provide transitions which show the relationships between key ideas. Throughout the lecture check on student understanding by:
Suggestion: Briefly summarize lecture material and preview what lies ahead.
Example: "Today I have identified five phases of the reflective thinking process. Tomorrow we will see how these phases can be useful for our understanding of human learning."
Suggestion: Relate lecture material to past or future presentations.
Example: "During the next lesson, we'll break into discussion groups and get some experience applying this evaluation model to the first three case studies in your file."
Suggestion: Ask a student to summarize the lecture's key ideas.
Example: "Who will summarize the key issues developed during today's lecture?"
Example: "As I stated in the introduction, given the appropriate data you should be able to plot the appropriate supply-and-demand curves."
The following questions relating to lecture delivery should be considered throughout all three phases of lecturing: