Improve Lectures With Stories

TreesLightWith Summer here, and light at the end of the tunnel, maybe there’s time to think about course improvements for Fall. With better lectures, you can enhance both online and face-to-face courses. Here are 3 easy ways to make your lectures more effective and memorable:

  1. Improve lectures with personal stories:
    Humans are wired to hear and remember stories. Adding your own personal anecdotes can perk up attention, bolster credibility, and more importantly, increase student recall. In his book “Teaching That Sticks,” Stanford University’s Chip Heath describes a student presentation experiment where he found the following:

    In the average one-minute speech, the typical student uses 2.5 statistics. Only one student in ten tells a story. When students are asked to recall the speeches, 63% remember the stories. Only 5% remember any individual statistic.

  2. Chunk lectures into small, coherent segments.
    Even the most energetic and entertaining lecturers can create too much of a good thing. If your presentations go longer than 15 minutes, students can zone out and their attention can wander. Breaking up lectures into smaller, topic-based segments is much more effective for learning.
  3. Target specific knowledge and skills with screencast lectures.
    Rather than going to the whiteboard or chalkboard to work through problems or examples, try creating a screencast or tutorial to demonstrate topics using computer software. This may save you time in the long run; you can often use these for multiple lessons and classes, and they will benefit confused students who can watch again (and again). The success of Khan Academy is built on this model, breaking down complex topics into visual step-by-step examples.