I’ve got a section of 120 students this semester. I’ve taught it before and always enjoy the group—there’s so much energy at 7:30 at night. Thinking about the class, I recently reread Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish’s “The ‘Change-Up’ in Lectures” (The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 1996, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 1-5), a refresher of tricks to make large lectures more engaging. Perhaps you’ve seen it.
My favorite quote from the article is this:
One explanation for the lapses in students’ attention is that the “information transfer” model of the traditional lecture does not match what current cognitive science research tells us of how humans learn. Research tells us that the brain does not record information like a videocassette recorder.
The full text of the article is on the web: ntlf.com/html/pi/9601/article1.htm
In the original printed version there is also this sidebar of tricks: ntlf.com/html/pi/9601/article4.htm
Tricks include the well-known “think-pair-share.” Have you ever tried the so-called “kisses and crackers”?