Giving an Effective Lecture

Vanessa McCaffrey, Chemistry

For the ACUE course module on “Giving an Effective Lecture,” I chose to try a couple of recommended techniques: “begin with an effective opening” and “pause for student feedback.” I decided to work on these two because we just had an exam in one of my classes. I thought it would be a good time to think of an opening that would get students excited about the new material. And even though I always stop frequently for student feedback, I decided to try a few new ways of getting students to ask questions.

I had to think hard about some good material for an effective opening. We were starting redox reactions and I wanted to use an example that wasn’t in the textbook. In the end, I decided to use a scene from Batman Forever where Robin says, “Holey rusted metal, Batman!” I think it went well. The students thought it was funny and we had a good laugh about the movie itself.

As for soliciting student feedback, I generally have a hard time convincing my organic chemistry students to ask questions during lectures. They are so afraid of inconveniencing the rest of the class or looking dumb. So I tried to have them come up with questions in small groups. It worked – they asked more questions and I think that they came up with some more ideas for their study groups.

I’ll continue to use small groups for generating student questions. If I have time, I’ll also dig up more “effective opening” examples.