The role of the lecture
Lecturing is often misunderstood. Today’s inspirational teachers understand that there is an art to lecturing that goes beyond a simple model of teacher-directed learning. However, the physical design of the lecture theatre tends to compound the idea that the timetabled lecture slot is all about listening to the lecturer as expert and about delivering content to large numbers of students. While gaining the attention of students to communicate key information about the course and about key concepts is important, much more can be done in this important space to engage the learner and check their understanding.
The lecture theatre as a space for content delivery does not go far enough. The lecturer’s role is to inspire and challenge their students and to deeply engage them in what they need to know factually or conceptually. It is a teaching space in which teaching skills are needed.
The lecture provides an opportunity to foster a sense of belonging in the course.
Sheffield Hallam University lecturers have contributed to the ongoing development of a resource-base on student-centred active learning in lecture theatres (you can print this doubled-sided resource for use in CPD workshops).
Typical Room Configuration
However, the teacher can break up lengthy sessions to interact with their students using a range of techniques to set mini-challenges and to check understanding.
Electronic Voting Systems allows the lecturer to check students’ understanding and to address misunderstandings as they arise. Likewise, Twitter can be used to establish a ‘backchannel’ through which students can post and answer questions and seek clarification without disrupting the flow of the session.
Key pages associated with this theme include:
- Flexible learning in the lecture theatre
- ‘Turn-and-learn seating’
- Using technology to support interaction
- Integrated voting systems.