Lively lecturing

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Lively lecturing

Even in today’s increasingly digital, online higher education field, lectures remain relevant — but expectations are indeed changing.

Two effective strategies for engaging your students in your lectures — in addition to using a variety of learning activities — are varying your lecture techniques, and creating a questioning environment, including the frequent and effective use of polling questions.

Varying your lectures: 

You can aim for more creative ways to organize your lectures. For example, you could:

  • Set a question, problem, or paradox at the beginning of a lecture, or tell the first part of a story. You can ask students to try to answer the question/solve the problem/finish the story, or do so yourself as the lecture goes on.
  • Work together with students to generate lists of pros and cons on a topic.
  • Model a process or skill. You can begin a lecture by modelling the analysis of a text, artwork, mathematical problem, etc., then give students an example to conduct similar analysis, and then provide them with feedback.

Creating a questioning environment: 

Asking questions is perhaps the most basic but effective way of engaging students in a lecture class. You should also aim to foster a classroom ethos in which students feel comfortable asking their own questions.

Don’t settle for asking questions that only check students’ prior knowledge and understanding, and review key points.

Ask question that…

Look for ways to combine questioning methods/tactics to achieve the best possible strategic/pedagogical effects:

  • Ensure you ask students to engage with the crucial concepts in your lesson at the optimal level of complexity/challenge. Balance easier/recall questions with more challenging questions that push students in their thinking, encourage discussion, or motivate students to try to solve a problem on their own.
  • Distinguish between lower-level questions (asking students to recall, understand, or apply) and higher-level questions (asking students to analyse, evaluate, or synthesize). Organize questions into patterns such as ‘same path’ (i.e. at the same cognitive level), or ‘extending and lifting’ (i.e. from lower to higher cognitive levels).
  • Vary your use of open and closed questions. Remember that closed questions are not necessarily lower-level, and vice versa! You can blend open and closed questions into sequences that ask students to think from ‘narrow-to-broad’ or from ‘broad-to-narrow’.

HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE) also provides you with a powerful tool for promoting questioning in your lectures: online polling.

Polling can :