Evaluation and Assessment

Assessing within a Lecture

What are some ways that you check for understanding within a lecture to make it more engaging?

Stephen Suglio
Stephen Suglio
190 Activity Points

Lectures are not engaging. However, they are sometimes necessary. I usually give students some time to research a topic with specific "look for" questions for specific web sites before we have a discussion. Students work with partners and they get to share what they learned with the rest of the class. They must also ask 2 questions about the topic at the end of their short presentation. Students know in advance that I am looking for speaking and listening skills and that I may use some of the questions on the end of the unit assessment. You can create a short power point at the end where there are 10 items and they require short answers. Use it like an exit ticket to clear up any misconceptions for the next day.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
85719 Activity Points

As Pamela said, lectures (or direct instruction) is not engaging but they are, sometimes, the easiest and quickest way to teach something.  I hated lecturing my students but felt the need,  particularly in higher grades.  I realized early in my career that students were not listening or comprehending anything during a lecture and were just copying the symbols I put on the black/whiteboard or screen.  My proof of this was when students would interrupt with a question to ask, "What is the word after 'the'?"  And that word was the main idea you were lecturing about like 'evolution' or 'molecule' but a one of the letters was messy.  As a student teacher I scoffed at one of my cooperating teachers who said that a studetn's attention span in minutes is equal to their grade level!  Through my career I came to realize that this was a good rule to follow! So, my chief advice is to keep direct instruction short and avoid mindless note-taking.  Here are some things I did that might work for you:

- Like Pamela suggested, prepare students before a lecture with an anticipation guide, a reading, a K-W-L or hand-in questions related to the topic.  Go over the questions and inform them which ones will be answered during the lecture and for questions that were really good but not part of the curriculum I would turn over to the class to look up and report back.  

- Break up the lecture into smaller segments (equal to their grade in minutes!) and have them complete an activity or worksheet questions between the segments. Hand out notes in a Cloze format (blanks where key words, phrases ideas occur) that the students filled in as the lecture progressed. 

- For fun have 'buzz words' that the students could shout out when they were said and give them prizes (candy, stickers, etc)

- Develop a mantra for the big idea of the lecture that everyone chanted at intervals.  i.e. "Space is REALLY BIG","EVERYTHING is made up of atoms!", "Living things need energy!"

- I loved using little whiteboards and got students to hold up happy, sad or neutral emojis about how they were understanding the lecture. You could also have them write down simple answers to your questions this way. An alternative is holding up a small green, yellow or red card which they could cup in their hand so only you could see. 

- If the technology is available - use Kahout or other polling software to get responses as you go.

Also, note-taking is a skill that should be taught.  Use a graphic organizer to help them and I was a big fan of the  Cornell method .  (see attached)

Hope this helps,

Gabe Kraljevic


Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
1985 Activity Points

I no longer give traditional lectures because I teach asynchronous online for most of my courses ... but I favor using online polling platforms to maintain engagement, break up the lecture, and take a measurement on the students' understanding of the current topic. 

Emily Faulconer
315 Activity Points

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