November-December 2016

Designing my First Lecture
By Diane Sepa-Kishi

I was fortunate this year to be given the opportunity to create and give my own


lecture as part of my TA duties for an upper year course. Naturally I jumped at the chance! I’d guest-lectured a few times previously, but the material was always provided for me, leaving little room for creativity and incorporating effective teaching strategies. This lecture was my chance to do it my way.

My initial instinct as an eager grad student ready to share my infinite knowledge was to cram as much information on my chosen topic as possible into my lecture as well as

include activities to encourage active participation from the students. After a few emails with the Prof who knew the class well, my approach changed significantly and for the better. Enthusiasm is great, but I can’t forget the principles I learned from the Teaching Commons’ workshops and TACT. My improved lecture was a success and I hope these tips that I followed will also help you in designing your first lecture:

1. Get an idea of the student population you’re teaching. Are they all from the same discipline, having taken the same prior courses? What information do they already know and can build on? What background information might you need to provide?

2. Follow the BOPPPS model. Don’t let this acronym fool you; this is a great model for designing a lecture. Gather the students attention (Bridge), state clear objectives (Objectives), perform an assessment of prior knowledge (Pre-test), create an interactive lecture (Participatory learning), perform a post-assessment (Post-test), and provide a conclusion and link to next week’s lesson (Summary).

3. Use teaching strategies to make the lecture interactive! Something like “Buzz Groups” is a great way to get the students chatting in groups of 2s or 3s in order to yield opinions or answer questions that may have come up during your teaching that you hadn’t thought of or noticed.

4. Remember quality, not quantity. In order to learn effectively, students need time to build new knowledge onto their existence knowledge base so overwhelming them with complex slides and ideas will not be helpful. Take the time to direct their learning and help them make those connections.

These helpful tips will get you off to the right start when designing your first lecture. The Teaching Commons is another place you can go to for help. For the experienced TAs, they offer an Induction to Course Design Workshop (November 21st) to help prepare you for that first Course Directorship or enhance your current course design.