It is important to analyze how and what students should learn in class or out of class, either independently or with others, as well as how to conduct in-class and out-of-class activities that effectively employ more active learning strategies.
Step 1: Analyzing needs for implementing an active learning strategy
Before deciding on an active learning strategy, analyze the need. Ask yourself:
Evidence & Data
- What evidence is there that a particular active learning strategy will enhance my teaching and learning or improve learning?
- How will this active learning strategy help your students meet the learning objectives?
- What observational or concrete data do you have about your classroom that can inform you about why you need to change it and how?
- What does the research literature suggest about my particular subject matter and best approaches to teaching it?
- What is the challenge with your current classroom?
- What concepts or topics do students struggle with the most based on observation, in-class student responses, quiz/test scores and/or other assignments?
- Do students need more personalized attention applying certain skills and knowledge in-class where your expertise could guide or coach their development?
- Based on the feedback and data you have collected about your class and students, where do active learning strategies makes sense in your course?
- Are there examples of the active learning strategies that you have seen that would be valuable to your students?
Step 2: Identify topic and questions
The first step is to identify the topics you wish to apply active learning strategies. Additionally, identify the overarching questions about this topic.
- Example: Topic: Water Pollution in the Hudson River, New York City
- Questions: Is the Hudson River really polluted? What are acceptable levels? Who decides these levels? Is there a single right answer to this problem?
Step 3: Identify learning objectives & outcomes
Next, define the learning objectives and outcomes for each topic:
- Give an example of a well-written learning objective with outcome: Students will collaborate in small groups (2-3) to conduct a research study on water pollution
- Learning outcome: Students will demonstrate their understanding by gathering data, analyzing data, providing written results that meet professional research standards, and presenting orally and pictorially to the class the results [Outcome].
Step 4: Plan and design the activity
Now that you have clearly identified learning objectives and outcomes, you can begin to plan and design the activity through considering the following questions:
- Will the activity occur in the classroom, outside the classroom, or both? Prepare a timeline plan to help you manage the activity and keep students on task.
- Provide clear and specific instructions to students before the session.
- Describe how students will engage with each other and complete the activity. Outline the steps.
- Establish and communicate ground rules and guidelines for group etiquette.
- Assign roles and responsibilities for any group work, collaboration, discussions or debate.
- Provide an agenda that includes a timeline of the topics and activities to be covered during the session.
- Provide verbal feedback that is consistent and fair.
- Consider how the in-class activity will continue after class in order to extend the learning process and experience.
- Communicate to students after the session. Prepare a rubric for assessing student effort. Determine what kind of technology or media you will need for the classroom, for students to access outside the classroom, etc.
Step 5: Identify sequence of learning events
Next, plan the sequence of learning events that will best meet the learning objectives and outcomes. Active learning does not have to replace traditional lecturing; instead, it may be interspersed with the ways you usually conduct the class. For example, you could lecture for 10-15 minutes, carry out an active learning activity, and, then, return to lecturing. Or, one week you could lecture, but assign an active learning activity for homework; then, the next week, you could flip your class and carry out active learning exercises with students already familiar with the lecture material during class time. There are many ways to sequence the learning events. Your job is to carefully think through the planning and delivery of these events to support your learners.
Step 6: Evaluate and assess
You should analyze the effectiveness of the active learning activity and assess whether or not it aided student understanding and met the associated learning objectives. Please see the next section for specific information on how to complete this evaluation and assessments.
As an educator, there’s nothing worse than realizing that your students haven’t engaged during a lecture. Lack of engagement can cause a lot of different issues for educators and students alike, including failed exams, missed deadlines and an overall feeling of defeat. Therefore, it is important to take steps that make sure your students engage with you, but this is easier said than done. It often seems as if there are so many distractions in the classroom, but there are some tried and tested methods to eliminate these.
1. Create amazing, interactive presentations and lectures
As a teacher, it is your responsibility to present engaging content to your students. If your lecture isn’t engaging from the start, there is no way that you can expect your students to stay engaged. Instead, create exciting content and presentations for your class, and even ask for anonymous feedback to rate your lectures to make sure that you’re making a positive impact.
2. Make smartphones your best friend
One of the biggest distractions that educators face today is technology, usually in the form of a smartphone. Instead of letting smartphones become a distraction in your lecture hall, how about making them a central part of the learning process? One example of doing this is by using tools such as Mentimeter to engage your students with interactive presentations, where they can use their smartphones to answer questions during the lecture. This will stop students getting distracted by their smartphones, and instead use technology to engage them in a new and refreshing way.
3. Create meaningful lectures
At the start of each lecture, explain to your students why they are there. Perhaps the topic you are going to cover will come up on the end of year exam, or it is an area that future employers consider important. By adding a “why” to your lecture you can give students some perspective and remind them how important it is to stay alert and engaged throughout the session. This will also help you as an educator to create structured, straight to the point lectures that will help students to reach their educational goals.
4. Add some humor to your lectures
No one likes listening to someone drone-on for an hour, so don't be that boring lecturer. Add some humor to your lecture to break up the content, particularly if you are dealing with complicated topics. This will help your students to feel more relaxed in the classroom; this will encourage engagement.
5. Use student interests to keep your content relevant
We have already discussed that interesting content is essential for keeping students engaged. One great way to improve your content is to understand what interests your students. For example, they might love Game of Thrones or have a particular interest in sports. You can use this information to create relevant lectures whilst establishing a positive student-teacher relationship. By adding something familiar to them, this can be particularly useful when tackling hard-to-understand topics that students may have trouble engaging with.
6. Become a great public speaker
Great leaders and inspirational figures are excellent public speakers. The way they talk, and their presence when they are in the room is enough to make people want to listen to them. Luckily, public speaking is something you can learn. Consider joining a Toastmasters group or learning more about how to improve your public speaking. This will help you to keep your students engaged.
7. Do an evaluation to measure engagement
At the end of your lecture, you can measure the levels of engagement by asking your students for some reflections from the session. This will not only help you understand how and if your students are engaging (after all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure), but your students will be able to test their own knowledge. Use our Lecture engagment evaluation template.
8. Ask your students about their expectations
Try to understand what they already know so that you can create lectures that fit their needs. At the start of the school year, consider asking your students about their expectations. This will also give you the chance to voice what your expectations of them are. Establishing clear communication between you and your students will help you to understand their needs and expectations which will help you to understand how you can keep them engaged.
Engagement isn’t anything you can demand from your students, but something you need to work with them together to achieve with them. Great content, communication, and interactivity are the core parts of getting your students to engage not only during a lecture, but for the whole semester!
Most students take notes during lectures, but why? What is the purpose of taking notes, and how can lecture notes help students learn better and improve their performance on graded assignments?
Note-taking can serve two related purposes: external storage and encoding. The first function, external storage, is probably what most students have in mind when taking notes: to ensure they won’t forget essential information and create a repository they can consult when studying for exams or otherwise reviewing the course material in the future. However, the process of taking notes can also facilitate encoding, or learning the course material in the first place. This can be done by encouraging increased attention and focus during lecture, promoting active engagement with the course material, and/or structuring key concepts and facts. The challenge is to take lecture notes that both facilitate learning and can serve as a useful resource for future review.
Methods of Note-Taking
There are many different methods or formats for taking notes during lectures. One of the most popular is the Cornell Method, while other methods include traditional outlining, mapping, and the “CUES+” Method. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages and may work better for some students or in certain courses. There is ultimately no right or wrong method to take notes, and many students employ some combination of these methods, implicitly or explicitly. However, there are certain strategies students can follow, regardless of their particular note-taking method, to take notes that will help them both learn and remember the course material.
The key to taking notes that will simultaneously facilitate learning and be useful for review is identifying and recording the most important ideas, concepts, and facts from the lecture in relation to the overall course. Identifying what is most important helps facilitate learning by forcing students to organize and contextualize the material, while also enabling efficient review by generating a repository of ideas and information that is likely most relevant for exams and future recall. Focusing on what is important means that you should resist the temptation to attempt to transcribe everything the professor says; while you might be worried you will miss something important, attempting to produce a transcription of the lecture undermines the encoding purpose of note-taking because it requires minimal active engagement and critical thinking.
Of course, identifying what is most important is often easier said than done. During lectures, students are bombarded with information, frequently at a rapid pace, and few professors self-consciously include information they do not deem important for some reason or another. Identifying what is most important is therefore somewhat of an inexact science and also a skill that must be developed over time; good note-takers are therefore not “born,” but rather “made” through continuous learning and practice, even if note-taking skills come more naturally to some students. The good news, however, is that almost every lecture provides students with an opportunity to build these skills, and there are some evidence-based strategies that students can employ to be identify important ideas and information and improve their note-taking skills, including:
- Prepare before the lecture by completing any assigned readings or problems (unless advised otherwise by the professor), reviewing your notes from previous lectures, and any slides or notes provided in advance by the professor. This will help you anticipate information that might be important, draw connections with earlier course material, and identify gaps in your understanding.
- Listen and watch for cues from the professor and/or in any slides or notes that signal what might be important. These cues include:
- Direct statements by the professor such as, “This is an important point”
- Writing on the board
- Changes in the professor’s tone of voice
- Pauses by the professor
- Pointing or other gestures
- Repeated terms or phrases
- Terms such as “In conclusion”, “to sum things up,” etc.
- Ideas or concepts referenced in the reading or in previous lectures
- Terms in larger font, bold, italics, underlined, or highlighted in slides or notes
- In addition to these cues, anything that you don’t understand is important to record in your notes, preferably with a clear reminder to ask the professor, teaching assistant, or another student. If you don’t understand an idea or concept, it is difficult to determine its relative importance for the course, so you should always record things you don’t understand.
- Think carefully about whether to use a laptop to take notes. Laptops can be useful tools for note-taking, but recent research suggests (perhaps unsurprisingly) they can be distracting, both to you and other students. Furthermore, because most students can type significantly faster than they can write, taking notes by laptop tends to encourage transcribing the lecture word-for-word, rather than critically thinking about what is important—even if students have been advised against transcription.
Using Your Lecture Notes
You diligently prepared for lecture, listened carefully, and produced a set of notes identifying the most important concepts and what you didn’t understand. Now what? How can you use your lecture notes to further your understanding of the material and prepare for exams and other assignments?
- First and foremost, actively review your notes after the lecture, preferably within 24 hour to maximize future recall. Even if you take good notes, you will generally forget around 50 percent of what you learn without review within 24 hours. You should therefore try to make a habit of reviewing your notes as soon as possible after the lecture. Some students recopy their notes, and while this can be useful in some cases, it is often time-consuming and may not contribute to your understanding of the material if done in a purely rote manner. As an alternative, you might focus on rephrasing your notes and/or identifying links between important concepts in your notes; it could also be useful to review your lecture notes in conjunction with any reading notes or the readings themselves in order to draw connections between material in the lectures and readings.
- After reviewing your notes, seek out your professor, teaching assistant, and/or other students about anything you still don’t understand.
- Consult with other students and compare lecture notes, not as a substitute for attending lecture and taking your own notes, but in order to identify what other students thought was important, interesting, or unclear.
Kiewra, Kenneth A. “A Review of Note-Taking: The Encoding-Storage Paradigm and Beyond,” Educational Psychology Review 1, no. 2 (1989), 147-172.
Mueller, Pam A. and Daniel M. Oppenheimer. “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” Psychological Science 25, no. 6 (2014), 1159-1168.
Sana, Faria, Tina Weston, and Melody Wiseheart. “Laptops hinder classroom learning for both users and nearby peers,” Computers & Education 62 (2013), 24-31.
Many graduate students find themselves at the head of the classroom, first as teaching assistants and later as instructors. However, graduate study often doesn’t teach students how to teach, and not all grad student instructors first serve as TAs. Instead, most graduate students find themselves instructing a college class with little to no teaching experience. When faced with the challenge of teaching despite little experience, most grad students turn to the techniques they have experienced as students. The lecture method is a common teaching tool.
A poor lecture is painful for both students and the instructor. Lecturing is a traditional method of instruction, perhaps the oldest form of instruction. It has its detractors who argue that it is a passive means of education. However, the lecture is not always passive. A good lecture is not simply a list of facts or a reading of the textbook. An effective lecture is the result of planning and making a series of choices — and it need not be boring.
1. Don't Cover It All
Exert restraint in planning each class session. You will not be able to cover all of the material in the text and assigned readings. Accept that. Base your lecture on the most important material in the reading assignment, a topic from the reading that students are likely to find difficult, or material that doesn’t appear in the text. Explain to students that you won’t repeat much of the material in the assigned readings, and their job is to read carefully and critically, identifying and bringing questions about the readings to class.
2. Make Choices
Your lecture should present no more than three or four major issues, with time for examples and questions. Anything more than a few points and your students will be overwhelmed. Determine the critical message of your lecture and then remove the adornments. Present the bare bones in a succinct story. Students will absorb the salient points easily if they are few in number, clear, and coupled with examples.
3. Present in Small Chunks
Break up your lectures so that they are presented in 20-minute chunks. What’s wrong with a 1- or 2-hour lecture? Research shows that students remember the first and the last ten minutes of lectures, but little of the intervening time. Undergraduate students have a limited attention span — so take advantage of it to structure your class. Switch gears after each 20-minute mini-lecture and do something different. For example, pose a discussion question, a short in-class writing assignment, a small group discussion, or problem-solving activity.
4. Encourage Active Processing
Learning is a constructive process. Students must think about the material, make connections, relate new knowledge to what is already known, and apply knowledge to new situations. Only by working with information do we learn it. Effective instructors use active learning techniques in the classroom. Active learning is a student-centered instruction that forces students to manipulate the material to solve problems, answer questions, examine cases, discuss, explain, debate, brainstorm, and formulate questions of their own. Students tend to prefer active learning techniques because they are engaging and fun.
5. Pose Reflective Questions
The simplest way of using active learning techniques in the classroom is to ask reflective questions. These are not yes or no questions, but those that require students to think. For example, “What would you do in this particular situation? How would you approach solving this problem?” Reflective questions are difficult and will require time to think, so be prepared to wait for an answer. Endure the silence.
6. Get Them Writing
Rather than simply pose a discussion question, ask students to write about the question first for three to five minutes, then solicit their responses. The benefit of asking students to consider the question in writing is that they will have time to think through their response and feel more comfortable discussing their views without fear of forgetting their point. Asking students to work with the course content and determine how it fits with their experiences enables them to learn in their own way, making the material personally meaningful, which is at the heart of active learning.
In addition to the educational benefits, breaking up a lecture and interspersing it with discussion and active learning takes the pressure off of you as the instructor. An hour and 15 minutes, or even 50 minutes, is a long time to talk. It’s also a long time to listen. Try these techniques and vary your strategies to make it easier on everyone and increase your likelihood of success in the classroom.
Many thanks to Community Members Dena Leshner and Jeniffer Obando, Senior Instructional Designers from the Teaching and Learning with Technology Team, who prepared the follow information for the March 21, 2017 workshop which they facilitated.
What it is
Interactive lectures include at least one opportunity for students to interact actively and directly with the material through a specific learning task. These can be brief segments within a larger lecture-based class period, and can include a single repeated technique or a mix of several different ones. As you explore the below sections, click on a concept for more information.
Considerations and Best practices
Instructors must choose content, establish learning objectives for both the interactive segments and the lecture as a whole, design overall classroom atmosphere, and address logistical issues.
Classroom management expectations are easier to set early on. Even if you don’t plan on using specific strategies until later in the semester, try to establish a classroom culture of engagement from the start. It will minimize confusion and reduce the “learning curve” your students may experience when you introduce more interactive elements to your lectures later on.
- Example: “Today’s lecture will include short, two minute pauses every 18 minutes. During this time, you are to turn to a peer and compare notes, or examine your own notes and jot down any questions you may have. This is intended to give you a chance to pause and digest the material.”
- Example: “At the end of today’s lecture, we will take 20 minutes for you to submit questions about the lecture content using Poll Everywhere. This time is an important and required component of the day’s lecture, and will be most meaningful and efficient if you jot down questions you’d like to ask as we go through the first part of the lecture.”
Every 15-20 minutes during the lecture, pause and ask students to think about the lecture for 1-2 minutes, jotting down notes, and/or asking clarifying questions. You can use pauses for review, discussion, and/or as classroom assessment opportunities. Classroom Response Systems can be handy tools here. (“Interactive Lecture Chart” St. Louis Univ)
- Predict the outcome of the demonstration. Individually, and then with a partner, students explain to each other which of a set of possible outcomes is most likely to occur.
- Experience the demonstration. Working in small groups, students conduct an experiment, take a survey, or work with data to determine whether their initial beliefs were confirmed (or not).
- Reflect on the outcome. Students think about why they held their initial belief and in what ways the demonstration confirmed or contradicted this belief. After comparing these thoughts with other students, students individually prepare a written product on what was learned. (“Interactive Lecture Demonstrations” Carleton College)
After lecturing for 15-20 minutes, stop and ask students to compare the notes they’ve been taking with a peer’s notes. Then, have them work together for a few minutes to flesh out / add to their own notes. This allows students to think critically about the gaps in their own knowledge while building knowledge collaboratively with peers. (“Interactive Lecture Chart” St. Louis Univ.)
After lecturing on a particular type of problem, give students a problem to work at their seats that resembles the kinds of problems they’ll see on their homework. After giving students a few minutes to try to work through the problem, discuss the problem with the class. By having students attempt what will later be an independent task in a guided setting, they are able to anticipate and address issues they might otherwise have been unable to solve on their own. (“Interactive Lectures” Vanderbilt Univ.)
- Divide the class into the following 4 sections. This can be done simply by dividing the room into quadrants:
- Questioners: must come up with 2 questions to ask about the material
- Example Givers: must provide applications for the material presented
- Divergent Thinkers: must disagree with some points of the lecture
- Agreers: must explain which points they agree with or found helpful
The term “backchannel” refers to the student-to-student and student-to-instructor conversations that can occur during lectures and presentations. All lectures involve some form of backchannel, such as an instructor requesting questions from students or back-of-the-room chit chat between students. However, online tools give instructors useful options for facilitating, directing, and leveraging backchannel conversations. Today’s Meet is an online chat platform designed specifically for classroom use. (“Interactive Lectures” Vanderbilt Univ.)
Classroom Response System Based Strategies
- Instead of just saying, “Are there any questions?”, ask all of your students to spend a minute or two reflecting on the lecture thus far and writing down one or two questions. Then, have students submit questions using a text-based response system, such as Today’s Meet, Twitter, or Poll Everywhere, rather than calling on them one at a time. This enables you to get a sense of question trends, and choose the best ones to address. (“Interactive Lectures” Vanderbilt Univ.)
- Pass the Pointer (for visual content): Place a complex, intricate, or detailed image on the screen and ask for volunteers to temporarily borrow the laser pointer to identify key features or ask questions about items they don’t understand.(“Interactive Techniques” Univ. Central Florida)
In this technique, an instructor poses a problem along with several possible approaches to solving it–perhaps approaches suggested by students during class. The instructor has the students vote on which approach to pursue first, then explores that approach with the students. Afterwards, the students vote on which approach to pursue next. (Note: You could also use this technique without the clickers and an alternative voting method) (“Classroom Response Systems” Vanderbilt Univ.)
The teacher poses a question to the students. The students ponder the question silently and transmit their individual answers using the clickers. The teacher checks the histogram of student responses. If significant numbers of students choose the wrong answer, the teacher instructs the students to discuss the question with their neighbor. After a few minutes of discussion, the students submit their answers again. This technique often (but not always!) results in more students choosing the correct answer as a result of the peer instruction phase of the activity. This is a fairly simple way to use clickers to engage a large number of students in discussions about course material. This approach can also set the stage for a class-wide discussion that more fully engages all students. (“Classroom Response Systems” Vanderbilt Univ.)
If your in-class notes are messy, unorganized, and unclear at first glance, you’re not going to get much use out of them. This has nothing to do with how neat your handwriting is — it’s all about how your notes are structured.
One of the most effective ways to remember (and understand) what you are learning in class is to take effective notes in the classroom.
Why Are Effective Note Taking Skills Important?
Better notes will help you remember concepts, develop meaningful learning skills, and gain a better understanding of a topic. Effective notes will even lead to less stress when test time comes around!
Learning how to take better study notes in class helps improve recall and understanding of what you are learning because it:
- Ensures you are actively listening to what the teacher is saying
- Requires you to think about what you are writing
- Helps you make connections between topics
- Serves as quality review material for after class
Using different note taking strategies is important, especially as you progress through high school and transition to college or university. There are several note taking techniques you can use to start taking better notes in class.
Start taking better study notes
Get more out of your study sessions with the complete study toolkit
including note taking templates, tips, and more.
Try these 5 methods to find the best note taking method for you!
The Cornell Method
The Cornell note taking method helps organize class notes into easily digestible summaries. This method is effective because the main points, details, study cues, and summary are all written in one place.
- Notes are neatly organized, summarized, and easy to review
- Allows you to pull out major ideas and concepts
What Does it look like?
The paper is divided into 3 sections: a 2.5” margin to the left, a 2” summary section on the bottom, and a main 6” in-class note section.
- Use the main notes section to take notes during class.
- Use the cues section to review your notes. After class, write down things you’ll need to remember and a prompt for each. You can also use this section for vocabulary words and study questions.
- In the summary segment at the bottom, write a summary of your notes. This is where you will highlight the main points.
The Mapping Method
The Mapping note taking method is a more visual way to organize your class notes. This technique is useful when learning about relationships between topics.
- Useful for visual learners who struggle with studying from notes.
- Helps you remember and connect relationships between topics.
What Does it look like?
The page is organized by topic. The main topics branch out into subtopics with detailed information about each.
How Do You Use It?
- While in class, begin the map with the main topic.
- Branching off the main topic, write a heading for each of the subtopics.
- Write any important notes underneath each subtopic.
- Continue the pattern.
The Outlining Method
The Outlining note taking method uses headings and bullet points to organize topics. This method is most useful when learning about topics that include a lot of detail.
- Allows notes to be neatly organized.
- It is easy to see the relationship between topics and subtopics.
- It is easy to turn points into study questions.
What Does it look like?
Each section starts with a heading of the main topic. Each subtopic and supporting fact is written underneath the proper heading.
How Do You Use It?
- During a lesson, begin your notes with a single bullet point and write the main topic.
- Place the first subtopic below and indented slightly to the right.
- List any details below your heading and slightly to the right.
The Charting Method
Charting note taking method uses columns to organize information. This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.
- Facts are organized and easy to review.
- Highlights key pieces of information for each topic.
What Does it look like?
The page is divided into columns labeled by category. The details of each category are filled out in the rows below.
How Do You Use It?
- When information about a category is mentioned, jot it down underneath the proper column.
- When the next topic begins move down one row and begin again.
The Sentence Method
The Sentence note taking method is simply writing down each topic as a jot note sentence. This method works well for fast paced lessons where a lot of information is being covered.
- Jotting main points helps you determine which information is important and which is not.
- You are able to cover a lot of details and information quickly.
- Notes are simplified for study and review.
What Does it look like?
Each line on the page is a new and separate topic. To organize your notes even more, you can use headings for each main topic.
How Do You Use It?
- Write down important information the teacher has emphasized. This can be in sentence form or point form.
- Start a new sentence or point for each new detail.
- Use headings to organize points by main topics.
Better Grades Start With Better Notes
Taking organized and thoughtful notes can help improve your understanding and recall of what you have learned in class. Try these methods of note taking in your next classes and see which one works best for you!
Check out our video for more tips on how to boost note-taking confidence.
To learn other ways to make school a breeze, visit the resource section or learn how Oxford Learning’s tutoring programs can help you build skills to become a better learner.
Learning requires some time-on-task. However, not all time is equal time. Efficient learning requires some degree of focus and attention. Tasks that are naturally more cognitively and emotionally engaging will lead students to more focused time-on-task and thus, more efficient learning. Below are some suggested practices to help students become more engaged in the learning task:
Zoom Tools for Engagement
Clickers During Lecture
Quizzes During Lecture
Zoom Tools for Engagement
For small classes, open forum discussion might be an optional method for engaging with students. However, most classes are too large to allow students to talk whenever they like. In large and very large classes, opening up the microphone to everyone might be distracting and could be catastrophic for class flow. Zoom has some tools that can help manage student participation and help students stay cognitively engaged with the instructional material.
Chat. One simple way to have students engage with the class is to ask for them to respond to questions in the chat. For larger classes, you can give students a set of multiple choice answers (e.g. “a, b, c, and d” or “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6”) and ask them to respond with the letter or number they think is correct. The benefit to this approach is that you can get quick answers from everyone and other students can see how others are responding. However, there are a couple of downsides to this approach: answers are not private (students might be more influenced by other student responses than their own thinking), there’s no quick way to aggregate the answers for quick aggregation of results, and in large classes, it’s difficult to find any one single response (i.e. if the class has 60 people, it might difficult to see individual responses since they’ll all come in very fast). Regardless of these downsides, using chat is an easy way to get students engaged.
Best practices for Chat: If you’re asking a multiple choice question, type your question and anwer options ahead of time in PowerPoint or equivalent and share your screen. Let the students know that you are going to look at the archived chat after class (even if the actual answer is not graded).
Emojis. Zoom provides users with a set of emojis that can be used for interaction. The instructor can ask students to select a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to indicate their response. One important emoji is the “raise hand” icon. This can be particularly useful in lectures where you want to field questions but also want to avoid disruptions. If you have all students muted, you can ask them to raise their hand when they have a question and open their mic when it is an appropriate time for the question. Hint: To get to the emojis, click on “Participants.” As the initiator of the meeting, you won’t see the raise hand in your list of emojis. As the organizer, you can clear all emojis when you need an emoji restart.
Best practice for Emojis. Have a short conversation with students at the beginning of class about appropriate emoji usage. If you would like for them to raise their hand during the lecture, let them know how frequently you will be opening up the mic.
Clickers During Online Lecture
What are Clickers? Clickers are student communication/feedback instruments that are used during live lectures. Students use clicker devices to send answers to discrete-type questions (Yes/No, True/False, Numbers, and Multiple Choice). This can be helpful for instruction, particularly in larger classes, since it both engages students in the learning process and allows instructors to get a sense of student understanding. Traditionally, clickers have been radio or infrared-based devices that communicated with the instructor’s control hub. The traditional use of clickers required that students be in the same room as the instructor’s device.
Clickers in Online Courses. Assuming that all students in an online class have a smart phone, tablet, or computer, instructors can operate clickers through apps, like TopHat (which is free at the basic level). Instructor can use these apps to gather attendance or get students engaged through clicker polls.
Quizzes During Online Lecture
Quizzes are useful during lecture to help engage students and to get a sense of what they’re paying attention to and learning. Traditionally, an instructor would run a quiz by either handing out a quiz worksheet or by asking students to take out a piece of paper and answer a series of questions that were verbally called out or written on the chalk board.
How to run a quiz online during lecture: One simple solution for running a quiz during Zoom is through Blackboard. To do this, set up the quiz ahead of the lecture through the “test” function. After you’ve added your questions, make sure “No” is selected next to “make available to students.” You can either strategically set the time that you want the quiz to open and close OR you can manually open and close the quiz during the lecture. Both of those options require some careful coordination.
Student Devices: Not all students will have a computer that they can use to access Zoom. Some students might only be able to use a smart phone during Zoom time. If this is the case, you will want to let students know they can switch over, or log out of Zoom while they take the quiz. You might want to run a confidential survey at the beginning of class to ask students how they are connecting during lecture so that you can see if this is an issue. Consider using the timer so that students can only stay in the quiz for a set amount of time before they need to rejoin class.
How To Study Online Courses Effectively (11 Useful Tips) Infographic
Having online classes is a great thing. You never have to turn up to a class in person, just sit with your computer at home, and receive instructions from your lecturer.
Even though online courses can be a more convenient, and cheaper means of learning, sometimes concentrating on studying can be difficult. There are a lot of distractions; from social media, emails to the temptation of sleeping especially when you study on your bed.
For those who have to work while pursuing a masters degree online, the best trick is to follow a strict schedule. You’ll have to work out your own best time to receive lessons and instruction.
We’ve all experienced classroom study in school, but online learning is something completely different.
If you’ve just enrolled in an online course and you’re struggling to keep up, you’re not alone. many online learners go through the same issue. Here is an infographic detailing 11 useful tips or strategies for your eLearning success.
1. Choose a study space with reliable Internet access
You will probably need to refer to online lectures and notes when you study. Therefore, you will need a study space where your Internet access will not be interrupted. Internet access will be particularly important during things like study sessions for your class.
2. Create a Study Schedule
Maintaining a strict schedule is vital to success in an online course. Even though you may not be required to attend classes or lectures at particular times, you still need to keep up with the course material on your own time. Therefore, self-discipline is important. Set a time each week to log onto the class and study materials.
3. Be disciplined / Avoid online distractions
It can be hard to stick to a schedule for an online course. However, be strict with yourself about adhering to your schedule. Self-discipline is vital to your success in an online course.
It can be difficult to focus on your online course if you have a social media account open in another tab on your computer. When you’re doing classwork, avoid browsing the Internet, checking your email, and other distractions.
4. Learn Actively
Learning happens when the neurons in your brain are active. To learn effectively, you must engage your mind. Write notes in your own words, recall information – say what you know about a topic without using notes.
5. To Stay motivated
Use motivation tricks to get results. You could study while listening to your favorite music or picture yourself in an hour’s time having completed the task and enjoying a well-earned break.
6. Print out any materials
Sometimes, the internet or your computer can be a distraction. It can be helpful to turn your laptop off at times to study. You should also print out things like a course schedule and syllabus.
7. Take notes on online lectures
Always take notes online as you would during a physical lecture. Sit with a pen and paper and take careful, legible notes in front of your computer. Handwritten notes increase your retention of the material better than typed notes.
8. Test yourself
Even if you don’t have access to practice tests, you can still test yourself by writing down everything you remember after each new chapter or frequently asking yourself questions about what you’re learning.
9. Avoid multi-tasking
Research shows that multitasking reduces the brain’s ability to store new information, so if you’re constantly switching between tasks, all that information will likely be going in one ear and out the other.
10. Take breaks
It’s important to take breaks as you study. Do something fun, like watch TV for a few minutes or go for a brief walk. You will find yourself feeling refreshed and recharged after a quick break.
11. Make friends online
Establish connections with other online learners. You can meet up and study together; share your challenges with them; and try collaborative learning as it promotes student engagement, and deeper understanding.
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Despite numerous arguments favoring active learning, especially class discussion, instructors sometimes worry that discussion is an inefficient or ineffective way for students to learn. What happens when students make non-value added, irrelevant, or inaccurate contributions? What about comments from non-experts that may obfuscate rather than clarify understanding? What about students who speak only to earn participation credit rather than contribute substantively to the discussion?
In our recent study, 246 students shared their understanding of how participation in class discussions affected their learning. More than 70% of students perceived a positive relationship between their own participation and learning but additionally discussed the value of other students’ comments for their learning. Finally, a number of students verbalized that when participation is required, they prepare more, and this preparation actually increases their learning.
The students further articulated five ways that participation enhances learning. To summarize, participation:
- increases engagement;
- helps students retain and remember information;
- confirms what they have already learned;
- provides clarification of prior learning; and
- deepens their understanding especially through hands-on and application-based learning opportunities.
Implications for Teaching
Here is a brief summary of how we have translated these student-generated categories into concrete pedagogical strategies to facilitate learning from class discussion. Instructors should plan discussions to provide opportunities such as those suggested to reinforce each of these five paths to learning.
- Increasing engagement. Make discussion participation required and ensure all students participate. For example, have each student take a stand on a key issue by requiring them to vote at the start of class. Alternatively, ask students to provide examples from the media that illustrate course concepts. Additionally, ask students to discuss links between course concepts and their experiential learning (e.g., volunteer activities, internships, study abroad, work experiences).
- Remembering and retaining information. Ask students to summarize key take-away points at the end of individual class sessions. They could also be asked to identify contributions made by peers during a given discussion that helped them learn a specific concept.
- Confirming learning. Provide verbal and nonverbal affirmation in response to student comments. Select media illustrating applications of course concepts, then have students identify the concepts evident in the media. In more advanced courses give students responsibility for selecting these real-world examples of course concepts. After new concepts are introduced, hand out problems requiring student application of these concepts. Problems may be solved individually or in small groups, after which the solution is discussed by the class. Alternatively, ask students to read articles—or again locate relevant articles themselves—where application of newer material is integrated with more foundational material.
- Clarifying through verbalization. Students noted two methods that improved their understanding: the verbalization of feedback by instructors and their use of questions to clarify student learning. We insist, however, that learning is enhanced when both instructors and students reciprocally: (a) ask and answer questions, and (b) give and receive feedback about both course content and the process by which it is explored.
- Receiving feedback. Provide feedback in both written and oral form to students. Further ask students to evaluate their peers’ work, including integrating a peer-review process into written work.
- Asking questions. Encourage students to ask questions, especially those at higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. There is value in discussing explicitly not only the pedagogical choices made but why these specific strategies are selected. For example, consider explicitly introducing the taxonomy at the beginning of each semester and then encouraging students to identify moments in the course where they see the instructor effectively utilizing it. Additionally, signal that questions are valued by including and rewarding them in the grading criteria for participation.
Even though some students commented that their participation doesn’t enhance their learning, the sizable number who indicated the role others’ comments play in their learning validates the importance of encouraging participation from a broader range of students than might normally volunteer. Further, students who assert they learn better by listening can be encouraged to participate at least a moderate amount to contribute to the learning of others, just as they benefit from others’ contributions. Although not comprehensive, these recommendations illustrate the breadth of strategies instructors can use to increase learning through discussion.
Elise Dallimore is an associate professor of organizational studies in the Department of Communication Studies and a joint appointment in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.
Marjorie Platt is a professor of accounting in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.
Julie Hertenstein is an associate professor of accounting in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.