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UA Teaching Academy Insights November 2023

A Note From the Director

As the faculty director of The University of Alabama Teaching Academy, I’m delighted to share this issue of our newsletter, which focuses on the art and science of interactive lecturing.

Research is clear that lectures partnered with active learning activities are more effective than full-class lectures (Freeman, et al., 2014). Interactive lectures — intentionally offering an engaging lecture presentation punctuated with and supported by active learning activities — are one of the most effective forms of lectures for improving student learning outcomes.

Interactive lectures serve the fundamental purpose of imparting factual knowledge while nurturing students' conceptual understanding of the subject matter. They can also offer unique insights, such as instructors' original research findings and personal experiences, bridging the gap between scholarship and textbooks, while having students apply the concepts. Interactive lectures can be used to promote critical thinking, problem-solving and alignment of content with course objectives. Moreover, interactive lectures have the potential to spark student enthusiasm for the course content.

Dr. Claire Major, UA Teaching Academy Faculty Director

Monthly Teaching Seminar Series

Reframing the Lecture as a Pedagogy of Engagement

To lecture or not to lecture? This is a common question in higher education today, as critics have called lectures boring, obsolete, old-fashioned, overused and even unfair. But those of us who have experienced great lectures know they can be an effective pedagogical approach. Perhaps the question we should ask is how to lecture in ways that engage students and deepen learning. In this session, Dr. Adam Brooks will help participants learn effective lecturing strategies and how to blend lectures with active learning techniques. This seminar will take place Wednesday, Nov. 15, 12-1 p.m. or 2-3 p.m., at 1311 University Hall.

Teaching Tip: Enhancing Lectures With Guided Notes

Student attention during lectures can be a challenge to their learning. Using guided notes can help.

Guided notes, alternatively referred to as skeletal notes or partial notes, are a note-taking method where students are provided with a structured document to capture lecture content. This document mirrors the lecture's sequence and includes designated areas for students to record key facts, concepts or relationships presented during the lecture.

Guided notes promote effective notetaking, comprehension and retention of lecture material. By incorporating these structured notes into your teaching approach, you empower students to take a more active role in their learning by providing them with a valuable resource for attention as well as study and review.

Check out our website to learn how to effectively use guided notes to enhance the student learning experience in your course!

Research Roundup

How to Improve Learning From Lecture

Lectures can be a useful tool, particularly when partnered with active learning. There are challenges, but with careful planning, some of these challenges can be overcome.

The article "A Learning Science Perspective on How to Improve Learning From Lecture" by William Cerbin discusses the importance of improving the effectiveness of learning from lectures, specifically from a learning science perspective. Cerbin identifies several challenges that can hinder learning from lectures.

Cerbin emphasizes that effective learning from lectures goes beyond just paying attention or taking notes. Instead, it relies on students' deep cognitive engagement with the material before, during and after the lecture. Check out his key suggestions on our website.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Adam Sharples Brooks

With a rich background in communication and a deep commitment to fostering meaningful learning experiences, Dr. Adam Sharples Brooks stands out for his innovative and student-centered approach. In this faculty spotlight Q&A, Brooks — associate professor and director of the Speaking Studio — shares insights into his teaching philosophy, the pivotal moments that shaped his methods and the profound impact he has had on his students' lives. Read more about his inspiring journey and dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of those he teaches.

Resource Highlight: Active Learning

In this newsletter, we have stressed that the best lectures include active learning activities to support them. But how do we use active learning to support learning in lectures?

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis offers tips for making lectures more active. Their webpage provides practical strategies for engaging students during lectures, including incorporating interactive elements, using technology effectively and fostering a participatory learning environment. The page emphasizes the importance of active learning in lectures and provides concrete suggestions for instructors.

Community Corner

Douglas Klutz

Douglas Klutz, instructor in the department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, gives his advice on lecturing in large classrooms:

One effective strategy I have found with teaching large course sections is to tie in information the students are already familiar with (like popular television series) and establish a connection to classroom learning objectives. This strategy can provide an engaging spark to begin class, and I find the information better resonates with students.

Read more about how he keeps students engaged in 159 Russell Hall, a campus classroom with more than 400 seats.

Online Learning Innovation Summit

Good news! The proposal deadline for the Online Learning Innovation Summit has been extended! The new deadline for submissions is Monday, Nov. 27.

The 2024 theme is “Building Technology Ecosystems: What Are the Other AIs?”

Topic Tracks:

  • Academic Integrity
  • Accessibility Integration
  • Authentic Interaction
  • Administrative Involvement
  • Analytic Impact
  • Artful Innovation
  • Achievement Inroads

Additionally, the topic track “TIER: Technology, Innovation, Education and Research” is for sharing an idea with the intention of starting a conversation and receiving feedback.

OLIS 2024 will take place Friday, March 1, at Bryant Conference Center on campus. Submit your proposal today!

If you have questions, please email professionaldevelopment@ua.edu.

Stay Connected

Do you have feedback or ideas for future newsletters? We'd love to hear from you! Simply reply to this email or reach out to teachingacademy@ua.edu.