Learning Center

The Lecture

Do you lecture 200 students each Tuesday? Who is the lecture for? How do you make sure the 200 students get what they need out of the lectures?

Have you considered the fact that most students are unable to stay focused for 3 times 45 minutes? What can you do about it? Students are able to stay focused in a lecture for about 10-15 minutes (Bligh, 1972, as referred in Biggs and Tang 2011). After that they need a short break - or a different learning activity. To remember as much as possible from the lecture, they also need a recap of the main learnings at the end of the class.

There are many activities that you as a lecturer can use in class to keep your students focused, to help them reflect on what they have learnt, and to improve their note-taking. You can give them a break after 10 minutes, where they can either work on their notes, or switch notes with their neighbour. You can give short quizzes (Kahoot, anyone?) or a few multiple choice questions. You can use buzz-groups, either discussing the topics that have been covered, or giving them a defined case on which to apply the new knowledge.

Maybe you are already using many of these activities, or maybe you believe you don't have time for them because of everything you have to cover. Both Gardner and Skodvin talk about  information overload (Skodvin 2006), where one tries to cover the entire curriculum in lectures (Gardner 1993), but by so doing prevents learning. As a lecturer, you have to consider which parts of the curriculum that are suitable for self-study, and what will need to be taught in a lecture. And there is no correlation between the amount of a curriculum covered in a lecture and students' learning outcome. On the contrary, studies show that the students will learn more from applying themselves to the curriculum by themselves (Biggs and Tang 2011). Use more time for student active learning activities focusing on selected parts of the curriculum, and only cover the necessary parts in the traditional lecture.

Biggs, J. and C. Tang (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university, McGraw-Hill International.         

Gardner, H. (1993). "Educating for Understanding." American School Board Journal 180(7): 20-24.              

Skodvin, A. (2006). "Mellom kateter og kaos." Forelesning i forskjellige varianter. I: Strømsø H, Lycke KH, Lauvås P, red. Når læring er det viktigste. Undervisning i høyere utdanning. Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forslag.          

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