The traditional lecture segments of an interactive class make it possible to:
- Present information that is difficult for students to find on their own or that you don't want students spending a lot of time looking for.
- Lay a foundation or set a direction for work the students will do on their own.
- Model an approach to problem-solving in the discipline.
- Get the students excited about a topic. For example, summarize a recent news article stressing the relevance of a geoscience topic.
A teacher usually has most of the students' full attention for about 20 minutes, based on research described on the Why page of this module, so involving the students in an interactive activity keeps them attentive. Even so, students will not retain all of what you have to say, so repeat your most important ideas, especially at the beginning and the end of the lecture, when student attention is at its maximum.
In the most interactive of lectures, your traditional contributions would be short and the interactive activities could be both planned and spontaneous. One of the things that makes the lecture interactive is the ability of the instructor to choose the content of the lecture segments based on the students' needs. These needs may be identified based on student questions and/or student response to lecture segments or activities. If students have difficulty answering a question or an activity goes astray in many or most student groups, it's time to find a new and better way to deal with the material.
More specific Suggestions about Lecturing on various aspects of content, organization, interactions with students, preparation, and more from faculty from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities at the College of William and Mary.
View from the front: Perspectives on the lecture approach ( This site may be offline. ) is a collection of articles from college faculty at multiple institutions that describe various approaches to the lecture method.