Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

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.

    More on what is an Interactive Demonstration

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:

  • Identify a core concept that students will learn.
  • Chose a demonstration that will illustrate the core concept, ideally with an outcome different from student expectations.
  • Prepare written materials so that students can easily follow the prediction, experience and reflection steps.

More on how to use Interactive Demonstrations in class

Examples of Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

  • Ready to use examples are available and can be browsed by topic.

References and Resources

References and Resources about Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

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