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Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

Created by Dorothy Merritts, Robert Walter (Franklin & Marshall College), Bob MacKay (Clark College). Enhanced by Mark Maier with assistance from Rochelle Ruffer, Sue Stockly and Ronald Thornton

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations engage students in activities that confront their prior understanding of a core concept. The activity can be a classroom experiment, a survey, a simulation or an analysis of secondary data.

What is an Interactive Lecture Demonstration?

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations introduce a carefully scripted activity, creating a "time for telling" in a traditional lecture format. Because the activity causes students to confront their prior understanding of a core concept, students are ready to learn in a follow-up lecture. Interactive Lecture Demonstrations use three steps in which students:

  1. Predict the outcome of the demonstration. Individually, and then with a partner, students explain to each other which of a set of possible outcomes is most likely to occur.
  2. Experience the demonstration. Working in small groups, students conduct an experiment, take a survey, or work with data to determine whether their initial beliefs were confirmed (or not).
  3. Reflect on the outcome. Students think about why they held their initial belief and in what ways the demonstration confirmed or contradicted this belief. After comparing these thoughts with other students, students individually prepare a written product on what was learned.

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Why Use Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

Research shows that students acquire significantly greater understanding of course material when traditional lectures are combined with interactive demonstrations. Each step in Interactive Demonstrations--Predict, Experience, Reflect--contributes to student learning. Prediction links new learning to prior understanding. The experience engages the student with compelling evidence. Reflection helps students identify and consolidate that they have learned.

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How to Use Interactive Lecture Demonstrations in Class

Effective interactive lecture demonstrations require that instructors:

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Examples of Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

References and Resources

References and Resources about Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

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