Recommendation 5.3 Materials and media: Structuring lecture materials
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Materials and Media
Assessment and Feedback
Make the delivery of lectures or recorded course content effective with a clear structure, visual support, and appropriate pacing.
Success Factor 5.3: Materials and Media: Structuring lecture materials
Plan what you want to talk about in advance, use it to build up your supportive visuals, and follow your plan. This will help you to keep your presentation clear, succinct, and well-paced. It helps learners to connect what you are saying to the rest of their learning, and understand its relevance in the “real world.”
Lectures and course materials are accessible, multi-faceted, varied, and aligned with course learning outcomes.
What is this?
Before recording or delivering lecture content, plan out what you are going to say in advance and how you will reflect key ideas from what you say in the visuals and documents you share. Follow the plan, and pace yourself to promote effective listening.
Why is this important?
Planning out what you are going to say can help to keep things efficient and relatable, making it easier for students to follow. Students learn more effectively when they can see the connection between new ideas and other things they are learning; when a real-world context or application is provided; and when they engage actively with the material. Following a clear structure can also help you to plan out the visual supports that help students keep up with new concepts and vocabulary.
Where is this?
Many instructors write their plans on paper, in Word, or in the notes section of a slideshow. This may also be shared in whole or part through Canvas.
How to Put Into Practice
Make Context & Connections Clear
Make the content relatable for students by providing real-world context or showing how to observe or apply the ideas in the real world. When possible, connect it to your own or their own experiences.
When recording yourself, control the pacing by speaking slower than normal and remember to pause. Use signposting language (e.g., “First…” or “Next…” or “Now we turn to…”) consistently and intentionally to make important ideas and the overall flow of ideas stand out. Many students will struggle with listening to a long video and may watch your videos several times, so when possible break your content into logical chunks and present several short videos (e.g., 6-9 minutes) rather than one long video. Keeping your videos short also helps if you run into technical difficulties because you don’t have to re-record as much content.
Encourage Active Listening
Try to include some reflection or prediction questions where you ask students to pause to jot down their ideas. Create space in the flow of interactions for a given unit or week by asking students to take in information for 10 minutes and then ask them to take an action (like note-taking, finding resources, reflecting) for 2 minutes before moving to the next information-intake part of the class meeting or online content. This “10 and 2” approach helps students retain information better.
Provide Visual Support
Course visuals and videos do not need high production values to be valuable. Effective slides or other visuals provide an important support to students, inspiring thought, providing connections and context, and helping them to acquire information accurately, which can be difficult when only stated aloud. Think about how many slides you need. Some effective practices include:
- Provide a brief outline of the lecture as an aid to taking notes.
- Define important concepts, key vocabulary or names.
- Relate words to images.
- Encourage prediction, critical and analytical thinking, and/or application.
- Connect ideas to related content.
- Share your slides before or after class.
Many of us use slide decks (e.g., PowerPoint) as our own speaking notes for in-person lectures. Merely sharing these files with students is ineffective because it lacks the interactive or explanatory element.
- For evidence-based advice about how to design effective slides, see this resource: Effective Multimedia Lecture Slides (Brown University).
- For practical advice about how to communicate effectively, see this resource: Classroom Communication Tips (Brown University).
- Six Factors of Course Success
- Course Success: Course Planning
- Course Support: Supporting Students
- Course Success: Instructor-Student Interactions
- Course Success: Student-Student Interactions
- Course Success: Materials and media
- Recommendation 5.1 Materials and media: Variety of materials
- Recommendation 5.2 Materials and media: Materials alignment
- Recommendation 5.3 Materials and media: Structuring lecture materials
- Recommendation 5.4 Materials and media: Accessibility of video content
- Recommendation 5.5 Materials and media: Accessibility of text content
- Course Success: Assessment and feedback
- Course Success Self-Review