6 Tips How to Make an Interesting Lecture that I Wish All Professors Know
Have you ever felt that why you are always falling asleep in the class and wake up feeling guilty that you are not a good student?
Yes, I agree that falling asleep in the class can show how little passion a student has for study. And no doubt, we should feel ashamed of ourselves.
However, I do think that professors/ lecturers should take responsibilities to a certain extent for making students fall asleep in the class too. Don’t you think so? I have attended many Japanese professors’ lectures for 4 years and I realized many professors have something in common that makes their lecture so deadly. Today, I don’t mean to offend but please allow me to provide some opinions (referring to some online resources) in order to make an interesting lecture.
(p/s Opinions DO NOT apply to all professors/lectures)
10 Tips to Make an Interesting Lecture
Successful lectures may change a student’s life. For many undergraduate students, we don’t know what we want to pursue for life and our possibilities are still left open of. A successful lecture plays an important role in motivating/inspiring a student to discover their meaning of life. It can change many lives in the class!
1. Don’t do all the talking
Listening alone is never the best learning tool. We need to experiment, discuss, and apply what we are learning. Many Japanese professors I have met tend to do all the talking by themselves. Rather than talking over the 90 minutes lecture by yourself, make some engaging activities during the class.
Break up your lectures so that they are presented in 20-minute chunks. Research shows that students remember the first and the last ten minutes of the lecture, but little of the intervening time. Which means it is better to tell your main content at the first and the last ten minutes, and switch gear after the 20 min mini-lecture and do something different.
2. Engage with your students
As #1 mentioned, do something different with your students every 20 min. The most common method to make engagement is asking questions to students. Many Japanese professors try to apply this method in the class but often they ask a wrong type of question. Instead of just asking “What is the population of Japan?”, we can ask “Do you think Japan should increase its population? why?” This kind of question stimulates interaction with students.
However, we all know that Japanese students rarely answer to professor’s questions in the class, especially in a large class. You can get them write about the question first for 3-5 minutes, then solicit their responses. Students will feel much more comfortable to discussing our views without fear of forgetting our points. You can even have students do group discussion after the writing, then listen to their responses as to the discussion question.
3. Be a good story teller
We, students rarely have the same level of intrinsic interest that you have. I know as a student we should study what caused the outbreak of the 2nd world war, we should study how Levi-Strauss applies the structural linguistics to anthropology. But the problem is, I don’t know why I would like those theories.
Many students don’t know what your lecture is about when they signed up. We just thought it sounded interesting after reading the online syllabus. Your lecture, therefore, needs to tell a good story. No matter what topic it is, it must have something to relate to our life. Otherwise we don’t need to study it, right? Use your vocal modulation, pace, and tone to make your story compelling.
4. Make your material easy to access
Technology changes our life. Nowadays, there is such thing called education platform, and it is widely implemented in many universities in the world. Put your material online so that students can access it easily. This action can stimulate students to prepare for the next class by going through the material, and also encourage us to refer to the class content after each class.
Unfortunately, many Japanese professors I have met do not make their material free-for-use online. Rather, they will tell you “if you don’t come attend my class, you will fail the final exam.” I have met some professors who take advantage of the online educational platform such as Black Board. Their lectures are always exciting because I’m able to pre-read the material before the class and understand what they are talking about in the class, even when I have a question, I can post my question onto the platform and get response online.
5. Diversify your assessment standard
Before coming to this university in Kyoto, I used to have a lot of group assignments that require us to give presentation in front of the class. But here, I realized most of the Japanese professors tend to assess students by 1 standard – the final exam score.
Every student is unique. Some maybe good at memorizing and ace the final exam, some maybe good at researching and write a good report, some maybe excellent at giving presentation to inspire the audience. Diversify your assessment options so that different type of students can have a chance to show their true color.
6. Don’t just repeat the book/reading
Finally, this is the main reason why I think professors should take responsibility for having sleeping students in the class. Don’t repeat what the book tells. Enhance it. Bring it to life. Add a bit of humor into your story and relate your story to your life or ours.
Especially at the first 10 min of the lecture, almost decides whether students are going to drop your class or not. We all respect professors for their knowledge and professional. But if reading the text book can tell us every thing you are going to say in the class, I think students would rather buy the textbook and read it at home, right? Let us hear your story.
These are my thoughts to make an interesting lectures based on my own experience and reference 1, 2, 3. No disrespect intended, but hope to see more interaction between educators and students, as I strongly believe educators are the strongest factor to change a student’s life.
Let me hear your voice if you have other thoughts. 🙂