In a college classroom, the traditional lecture method for transmitting knowledge has been generally accepted. When students construct knowledge from an active participation in a course, real learning and critical thinking occurs. To develop a perspective on the kinds of critical thought that are central to understanding a particular discipline, there are numerous alternative methods, besides the lecture method. Instructors can firstly determine their purposes and goals for presentation of the course material and then decide which are the most appropriate methods that they can adapt.
Lecturing is probably the oldest method of teaching and still the most common form of instruction in colleges in India. Delivering a lecture is a method of teaching by discourse rather than conversation or seminar. In this age of advanced technology, this method is still being widely practiced in India. Research has of course shown that if lecturing is not combined with other alternative styles of teaching, it can be ineffective. In order to achieve the instructional goals of the class the lecturer must be able to determine whether the lecture approach is the best method of teaching or not.
- Lectures if delivered well can communicate the basics of the subject matter. The speaker can convey personal enthusiasm in a way that no book or other media can. Enthusiasm leads to interest, and interested, stimulated people tend to learn more.
- Lectures do provide students with role models of scholars in action. The professor’s way of approaching knowledge can be demonstrated for students to follow.
- Original research or recent developments that have not been published can be conveyed through lectures.
- Lectures can convey factual material.
- Lectures provide a faster and simpler method of presenting information to students. Lectures are particularly useful for students who are not very good at comprehending printed material from books.
- Lectures can be delivered to a wide audience at a single span of time.
- There is maximum teacher control with the instructor choosing what material to cover, and other courses of action.
- At lectures students are not required to do anything other than listening which is an advantage for students who learn well this way.
- Lecturing offers face-to-face confrontations with other human beings who talk, gesture think and feel like them.
- Students play a very passive role while a lecture is being delivered. Passivity can hinder learning.
- Lectures encourage one-way communication. Feedback about the students’ learning is generally not conveyed to them.
- The span of attention of students generally does not last beyond 20 to 25 minutes.
- Lectures tend to be forgotten quickly.
- Lecturers must be verbally fluent which is a skill , in general, not distributed very evenly among people.
- Lectures are not well suited to higher levels of learning like application and analysis.
- The burden of organizing content solely rests on the lecturer.
- Abstract and complex subject material cannot be delivered well by lectures.
- Lectures assume that all students are at the same level of understanding and are learning at the same pace, which is not possible.
Planning an Effective Lecture
Lecturers must firstly remember that the student’s mind is not a blank slate. He must therefore take into account the students’ existing knowledge and expectations along with the structure of the subject matter.
“The most intellectually alive and exciting lecturers tend to be those who view knowledge as a dynamic process rather than a static product” -L. Dee Fink
A good way to approach the preparation of a lecture is to follow these simple steps, answering a variety of questions along the way:
- Select a topic based on the overall subject matter of the lecture. This will probably be drawn from whatever is on the syllabus for that day’s class.
- Now decide on the purpose. Once the topic is chosen, the next stage is to decide why it is being taught . Possible questions that you may want to ask yourself could be: Is preparation for an examination the focus point of my lecture? What are the key facts I want my students to remember? Is my aim to make students understand this difficult concept? Do I want to advocate a particular idea or behaviour? Is one of my purposes to entertain?
- Lecturers must learn to analyse the class just like performers need to know their audience. They will find it useful to determine the level of students in their class. How mature are they as learners? What is their prior relationship with the subject matter? What learning styles will be preferred by this group of students ?
- It is also helpful to analyze the occasion before preparing each lecture. A class early in the morning, might require the lecturer to be more extroverted, in order to wake the students up. Long class periods may be suited to an interactive lecture. Students at the beginning of the semester may be more enthusiastic than during the last week of classes. These issues can be predicted in advance, and such an awareness will usually improve the effectiveness of the lecture.
- The next step is to gather the materials to be used in the preparation of the lecture. It is a good idea to bring everything together before sitting down to write, so that all the necessary sources are available immediately at hand.
- After the materials are together, the next step is to prepare the lecture in terms of actually writing the lecture itself. It is certainly desirable for lecturers to do a sufficiently detailed preparation of the lecture to be entirely comfortable with the content of the lecture.
- Finally, it is advisable to practice the lecture especially if you are inexperienced. This will help phrasing and delivery and will perhaps provide some advance feedback. Here are some more suggestions for the delivery effective lectures.
The Introduction :
It is advisable to plan an introduction that may challenge knowledge or raise a question in the students’ minds in order to arouse curiosity. Good introductions help students to differentiate between more and less important features of lectures. The aim is to capture the interest of the student. As with a good drama, effective lectures should grip the listeners’ attention from the very beginning !
Raise a question to be answered by the end of the hour.
Explain the relationship of the lecture content to professional career interests etc. Relate lecture content to previous class material.
Tell students how they are expected to apply the lecture material to future studies.
You can also start your lecture by telling a personal anecdote or a relevant funny story or joke; provide an overview of the lecture; or give the lecture an intriguing title.
The Body of the Lecture
The body of the lecture can allow for some flexibility in the amount of content to be presented in order to respond to students’ questions and comments. It is very important for the lecturer to determine the key points rather presenting nuances and minute details which are likely to make the students lose sight of the main idea. It is not necessary to cover everything, as students must be able to make some critical discriminations between important concepts and trivia. An individual lecture should cover only four or five main points that are elaborated to the students. The body of the lecture must, of course, be well organised. Organising the lecture can be done in a number of ways.
Events can be cited and explained by reference to their origins.
Lecture ideas should be arranged chronologically.
Structure the lecture using an organisational idea , – for example state a problem and then offer alternative solutions.
Illustrations and examples help people to understand things better. To maintain the attention of the students, do provide a break in the information output every 10 minutes or so by providing anecdotes, visuals, humor, questions, and the like.
The Conclusion of the Lecture
The conclusion of the lecture has the opportunity to make up for any lapses in the body of the lecture. By encouraging students to formulate questions by asking questions yourself can facilitate memory and understanding.
State the main points again by using a new example, asking for the main points, and showing where the class is at that point of time.
Ask the students to summarize the key ideas.
Restate what students should have gained from the lectures.