Interaction

Learn how to include interaction in lectures and tutorials. Students react positively to interactive teaching styles, in class and with group work.

How to include interaction in a course to support group work

Imagine that you are a student walking into a lecture. Which of these two scenarios would you prefer?

  1. You walk in, sit down, and spend the rest of the lecture listening to the lecturer talk about course content.
  2. You walk in, sit down, and start to do a short quiz (on a slide) about the last lecture’s content. Ten minutes into the lecture, you are asked to discuss a question with your neighbour, so you introduce yourselves and discuss the content. Throughout the lecture you interact with the people near you and find out what they think about different issues in the course.

If you were thinking like a student, chances are that you chose the second scenario. Most students prefer interactive lectures, in which they learn a lot more. To get some ideas on how you can engage students more in lectures and tutorials, read the tips below.

Lectures

  • Pose discussion questions throughout a lecture. Use ‘think-pair-share’ tutorials: allow time for students to think, then ask them to discuss the answer with the person/people next to them. After a couple of minutes, ask a few people to share their answers. A variation is to pick people to answer. Knowing that they could be picked encourages students to be prepared.
  • Use multi-choice questions and clickers to engage students and get them to answer the question. Again, this encourages students to be prepared.
  • Ask students to submit questions before the lecture so they can be answered in class. This is a good way to get shyer students to take an active part.

Tutorials

Use the following methods to make tutorials safe, comfortable environments. Focus on building relationships among students, and let them know that it's okay to be silly.

  • Use icebreakers. It’s possible to do variations of icebreakers that involve class content throughout the semester.
  • Use 'think-pair-share'. This involves getting students to think about the answer to a question, talk about it with the person next to them, then share and discuss with the group.
  • Discuss questions in small groups. It’s best to arrange the tables into small groups to encourage discussion. Such discussion works well if tutors go around the group and help facilitate the discussion in a way that ensures all students participate. A variation is to ask students to sit with their project group members. This helps the group members to get to know each other better.
  • Run quizzes on class content. These can be done in groups, as pairs, or in competition with other groups/pairs.
  • Have a list of questions and ask students to discuss each one with a different person.
  • Have worksheets for students to do at home and bring to tutorials. Base discussion around the answers to the worksheet questions, so that students can all contribute to the discussion. Students will also get a good understanding of why they answered questions incorrectly.
  • Play a video related to class content and base a discussion around the video. The tutorial could be split into groups with each group discussing/presenting on a different aspect of the video.
  • Include simulations to get students practising group work skills.