Phil Lightfoot provided a “personal perspective” on the lecture in the first of this FORUM series of workshops exploring successful teaching encounters. This was actually the 2nd time that Phil, who received a VC’s award for teaching last year with particular commendation for his approach to lecturing and large group teaching, has held this workshop as the first time it ran it was hugely oversubscribed. Once again, not everyone who wanted to attend was able to make it so the session was recorded using the Replay service and is available online here.
The session provided a very thoughtful and practical overview of Phil’s perspective of the role of lectures in a wider teaching context and how he designs and delivers them to maximise student engagement and learning in and beyond the face to face contact time. Drawing on established educational theories and literature such as Biggs, Kolb, Bloom and Honey and Mumford, Phil outlined how he transforms the lecture from 50 minutes of providing “input” to passive students into a springboard for active learning.
Lectures are constructed from a range of activities, which Phil refers to as his “toolbox of learning styles” (below) designed to target the different learning styles amongst his students; activist (A), reflector (R), theorist (T), pragmatist (P).
Activities outlined in the toolbox are deployed to build up the lecture framework which will typically consist of:
- Intro to the session (4mins) – Recap of previous lecture, clarify learning outcomes and online resources associated with this lecture.
- Lecture body / audience jolts (4 * 12 mins) – Selected activities eg discussion, note taking, problem solving etc. “Jolts” (1 – 2 minute) are used to break up the activities and “wake up” the audience with very short breaks, eg movie clip, anecdote, demonstration, pair discussion, object inspection etc.
- Summarise and take home messages (2 mins)
A significant theme throughout this approach to the lecture is the relationship between the face to face contact time and what students do in the remaining 75% independent study time of a typical course. Phil is acutely aware of the need to both maximise the impact of the limited contact time available and also to motivate his students to work effectively outside of this. Students are expected to prepare effectively beforehand with required pre-reading (this expectation is instilled in them from year 1 and by the 2nd year is seen as the norm) and follow up afterwards with a series of online activities, closely aligned to explicit learning outcomes, delivered through extremely well resourced and maintained VLE sites.
The session ended with an highly enlightening short video showing three different views (instructor performance, onscreen activity and student reaction) of one of Phil’s lectures, illustrating how he puts it all into practice, see below (to preserve anonymity students have been blurred out in this online version)
With ten minutes left for questions and discussion, the main themes were;
- Workload implications for preparing so effectively and providing the high level of associated online support
- Strategies for engaging students with reading and other pre-session activities
- The impact and relationship between this lecturing style and formative assessment activities / summative exams.
The session ended, as one would expect, with many issues left to ponder as a number of participants commented on how they would look to integrate some of the ideas and techniques highlighted in this genuinely inspirational presentation into their own teaching. I will be picking up on one of the major themes raised in the Q&A session in a forthcoming blog post discussing some approaches for developing engaging online resources and activities to support active student learning with limited time and resources. Please use the comments on this post to share your own personal perspective on the lecture.
Links / refs
- Presentation recording
- Presentation slides: successful teaching encounters_the lecture
- Biggs, J., 1999. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press
- Anderson, L.W. and Krathwhol, D.R. (eds), 2001. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
- Honey, P. and Mumford, A., 1982. Manual of Learning Styles. London: P Honey