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Keeping Students Engaged

Keeping Students Engaged

31 May, 2016

It is important to make sure that students are paying attention during lectures.

Here are some techniques in keeping students engaged.

1.      Convey information effectively

  • Don’t talk too fast. Practice proper pacing
  • Start with a hook to get the students’ attention
  • Give a visual agenda of your lecture and use transition slides.
  • Structure your lecture into meaningful sections.
  • Incorporate mini-summaries throughout.
  • Pause in between your lecture to pose questions or ask students to formulate questions to ask you or a partner sitting next to them.
  • Present information both visually and orally; consider usingPowerPoint.
  • Repeat main points periodically.
  • Use different methods to convey ideas and concepts such through demonstrations, multimedia, and guest speakers.
  • Explain relevance of content to students’ lives for them not to forget the lecture
  • End with a summary. You can visually display one, or try an active learning technique such as the following:

Ask students to reflect on the session and summarize the most important points of the lecture. (You can collect these summaries for your review.)

Once students are finished, display or create your own summary on the spot for students to compare with their own summary.

  1. Be aware that you have options beyond lecturing. There are several engaging learning activities that can easily be implemented in any class regardless of size.

One way to engage students is by Group work or collaborative learning

Group work enables students to learn from each other if implemented effectively. Activities can be pair or small group in-class activities, or they can be more involved and continue throughout the semester.

One group activity you can easily use in a large lecture is the “snowball”:

  • First, ask students to break into pairs to complete a task such as brainstorming on a topic.
  • Next, ask each pair to match up with another pair, forming a group of four. They can share their answers and finish another task such as ordering their lists into categories.
  • Finally, have the groups of four to match up with another group of four and finish another task.
  1. Integrateactive learning techniques

Research suggests that 15-20 minutes is the amount of time it takes for student interest to wane. Within a 50-minute lecture you can do two to three active learning activities. These can be short exercises such as:

  • Having students to turn to a neighbor to share notes and ask clarifying questions.
  • Asking students to write down one or two possible exam questions based on the lecture content just covered (collect these questions and consider using them for a test or exam).

4.      Check student development to assess student learning regularly

Not only does regular assessment of student learning lets you to measure the effectiveness of your methods, it also engages students and helps them take control of their own learning. Regular assessment of student learning will help you check whether you should adjust the pace of the course, or present material in different ways.