Toward a Better Lecture

As Brookfield (2006) suggests, lecturing is here to stay as a major component of post-secondary teaching. Prior to starting PIDP, I had two main things going on in class: lecture or lab activities. I would typically lecture for 90 minutes, sometimes more. And I hated it. I knew this was not the best way; I knew that attention spans are much shorter than that, and students were only passively listening when I did have their attention. I tried struggled with giving powerpoint notes before or after class, sometimes withholding key points, but still very few students would write notes.

The problem was that I didn’t know a better way. I am the product of my teaching experiences (Brookfield, 2006), and most of those were predominantly lecture oriented. Even with short activities or discussions interspersed, I ran into another problem: there was so much information to cover and I had to teach it before students could use it. There wan’t enough time to add things, and too much to cover to reduce lecture time.

My students are beginner adult learners, and often on;t have the tools to learn effectively on their own. I felt I had to cover more than the broad strokes in lectures, because it was the only way they would be exposed to it. All the Classroom Assessment Techniques (Angelo and Cross, 1993) and strategies to break up lectures (Brookfield, 2006) wouldn’t help if I was going to run out of time. My lectures needed a major overhaul, and a serious look as to the minimum information I could include. And that was a major project that I kept putting off.

I my first PIDP class, I found the answer for me: flip the class. I could stop lecturing altogether (or mostly, anyway). That was, perhaps, an extreme solution, but it did address the things I was looking for. With an innovative method in mind I was excited and could no longer put it off. Flipping isn’t for everyone, and it does take a lot of work. Now I am addressing something I didn’t when I initially made all those videos: content, the same problem I had before. Now I see that I can remove detail from my lecture videos because students will see the detail in class.

There are two major components to a lecture: content and delivery. I found an innovative delivery, but a good lecture is only as good as its content, and I am now taking the time to look at the content with a critical eye.



Brookfield, S. (2006). The Skillful Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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