12 Step Program for Lectureholics

14th century lecture, with sleeping students

Lecturing 14th-century style, at the University of Bologna

The best lecturers produce the same level of student information-retention as the worst engaged classroom instruction. Neil Davidson shared the research that supports this claim in his presentation “Breaking the Cycle of Teaching the Way You Were Taught.”


Consider your own worst lecture experience from your past. Did you have a professor who read from the book for the 50 minute class?  One who talked only to the board, or was too highbrow to connect with the class?  The engaged classroom model offers professors a chance to move beyond the lectern and cause students to do more than absorb a script.


Davidson, a Mathematics professor, recommended replacing class-long lectures with LLLOLLs, Legitimate Little Lectures of Limited Length.  These ‘lecturettes’ can be interspersed with  engaged classroom practices.  I like to think of it as the Sesame Street classroom: a variety of engaging activity supporting valuable information transfer.


Davidson also recommended starting small.  Instead of reworking an entire course, he said it is better to start with one unit, or even a single lesson plan.


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