In creating classroom culture, you will also need to think about content delivery. By far, the most common way to convey information in the university classroom is through lectures. It might be helpful to think about the lecture as a learning experience that connects the audience, content, and lecturer. The TATP have a lecture plan template that can help you organize your lectures from choosing a topic to making an outline with activities and timing.
Lecturing Effectively from the University of Waterloo outlines seven areas for creating effective lectures: 1) preparation, 2) lecture notes, 3) clear structure, 4) student engagement, 5) delivery, 6) visual aids, and 7) mindfulness of accessibility considerations.
Preparation: This includes practicing your lecture (at least for the first few) to gauge timing and comfort with the material. If you can, visit the classroom before the first class to see where you want to stand and what the physical environment is like.
Lecture Notes: When creating your lecture notes, avoid writing a full script so that you talk to the class, project your voice to the audience, and make eye contact with students. Build flexibility into the notes when you can and even include delivery cues in the margins.
Clear Structure: Start off with the big picture and how the topic fits into that context. Be mindful that you can only cover a few main points per lecture. The basic structure should be to preview the learning, deliver the lecture, and then recap at the end. Keeping the lecture outline visible all through the delivery and clearly signposting transitions will also help students to follow along.
Student Engagement: Keeping students engaged during lectures will help students retain the content. But you will not be able to keep students’ rapt attention all of the time. The average adult attention span ranges from ten to twenty minutes, so organize your lecture into ten to fifteen minute chunks broken up with learning activities. Engaging students in their learning through individual or group work can keep them active and also allow a chance to practice what they just learned. With the Active Learning and Adapting Teaching Techniques from section 3.6 above, you can create engaging lectures that capture your students’ attention. Consider sharing your lecture outlines, notes, or slides with students in advance.
Delivery: For delivery, try to be engaging. If you are able to, make eye contact with students, move around the room, project your voice to different areas of the classroom, check in with students that they can hear you, make sure your face is visible as much as possible, and use a conversational tone. It will also help to build a rapport with students in the class by arriving early to informally chat with a few of them. This is an ideal time to learn some students’ names which you can then use when addressing them in class. And bring water to avoid dry mouth and to pause for students to process the lecture content.
Visual Aids: When using visual aids, make sure that they have a pedagogical purpose. For example, if you show an image, discuss it in class. The TATP has a resource Using Visual Aids in the Classroom that offers best practices for making slideware presentations and classroom visual aids accessible to all students.
Mindfulness of Accessibility Considerations: For slides, we recommend that you use PowerPoint because it has accessibility features. Council of Ontario Universities has a resource on Using PowerPoint that provides the best practices of accessible PowerPoint presentations and shows how you can ensure that your PowerPoint presentations are accessible. When using videos, choose ones that have closed captioning. But also be mindful that you will need to use videos and images within the copyright rules of the University. The document Use of Audio Visual Materials on Campus provides detailed information about how to do this. Other accessible options included making large-print versions of handouts and ensuring a high colour contrast on visual aids. Establishing an accessible learning environment is discussed in further detail in section 5.4 above.