How to Give Interactive Lectures

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

Giving an interactive lecture involves creating and integrating interactive student activities with the more traditional segments. In highly interactive lectures, the traditional lecture portions are brief with either planned or spontaneous interactive activities. Instructors new to using interactive lecture might begin with one interactive segment in a class period, but as instructors become more comfortable, they might use a blend of various interactive techniques all in one class period.

Steps for creating an interactive lecture

  1. Engage in pre-instructional planning.
  2. Select engagement triggers and learning tasks for interactive segments.
  3. Select and adapt from interactive lecture techniques.
  4. Structure and manage the interactive class session.
  5. Select mechanisms and methods for collecting, organizing, and responding to feedback.

*Instructors teaching large enrollment courses may need to modify these steps.

Pre-Instructional Planning

Interactive activities can engage students in many different ways with varying contexts and learning goals. The process begins with pre-instructional planning and attention to classroom management issues. Lecturers must choose content, establish learning objectives, consider incentive structure, design overall classroom atmosphere, and address logistical issues.

Pre-instructional Planning

Engagement Triggers and Tasks for Interactive Segments

The instructor will want to find a task that serves as the center of an activity and begin the interactive segment by using some sort of engagement trigger to capture student attention. Ideas for tasks and engagement triggers are introduced and explained here.

Engagement Triggers and Tasks for Interactive Segments

Interactive Learning Techniques

To create an interactive lecture segment that meets the desired learning goals, instructors must select an appropriate activity from the many possible techniques available. Because the options are limitless, particularly when lecturers make creative adaptations, it is useful for instructors to consider their choice of technique based on the categorization scheme of "basic," "intermediate," and "advanced." These classifications differentiate the required preparation and class time as well as difficulty level.

Interactive Lecture Techniques

Structuring and Managing the Interactive Class

In addition to selecting individual activities, the instructor will want to consider the combination of lecture segments and activities for an effectively structured and well-managed interactive lecture class period.

Structuring and Managing the Interactive Class Session

Collecting, Organizing, and Responding to Student Feedback

Finally, instructors must determine how to end an interactive activity, gather student responses and provide, when appropriate, a synthesizing discussion or follow-up assignment. The student responses also provide useful feedback about what students have learned. Instructors must determine if the interactive segment met the learning objectives. This is a consideration that may involve formal or informal assessments.

Collecting, Organizing, and Responding to Feedback

Managing the Large Enrollment Course

Conducting interactive lectures in large enrollment courses can pose a unique set of challenges that require additional managerial strategies. Instructors need to pay extra attention to being organized and prepared, the dissemination of course materials, encouraging student participation and incorportating pedagogical technologies. With careful planning, even classes with hundreds of students can have interactive lecture segments with engaged students.

Managing the Large Enrollment Course