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Chapter 6: Lecture, Discussion, Demonstration


1. Determine when to use and how to prepare and

present an effective lecture

2. Determine how to conduct three types of meaningful


3. Describe functions of and how to plan effective


4. Determine how to overcome difficulties in asking

I. The Lecture
A. Traditional, teacher-centered method
1. Presentation of ideas and information from teacher to student

2. Strengths
a. Large amount of material can be covered in a short time
b. Effective for introducing, clarifying, defining
c. Efficient for students who have difficulty reading or don’t read
d. Inexpensive
e. Can be as effective as any other method in cognitive gains

3. When is it appropriate to lecture (Gage and Berlinger, 1992)

a. The purpose is to disseminate information
b. The material is not available elsewhere
c. Particular organization is needed for a specific group
d. Need to arouse interest
e. Student only need to remember information for a short time
f. Need to introduce or provide directions for other learning tasks
B. Effectiveness of Lecturing
1. Determined by use of current student knowledge
2. Determined by logical construction of new concepts
3. Lacking when compared to some other methods
a. Associated with rote learning
b. Can lead to bored, inattentive students
c. Can lead to authoritative and overly-structured teaching
d. Blame is generally on the teacher, not the method (Ausubel, 1961)

4. Interactive Lecture most effective

a. Teacher and student questions interspersed
b. Demonstrations included
c. Provide opportunities for concept change
d. Provide feedback for teacher of student understanding

5. Useful for beginning teachers

a. Develop confidence in classroom management
b. Teacher remains focus of activity
c. Provides bridge to more student-centered instruction
C. Preparing Lectures
1. Checking your understanging
a. Must know the content
b. Must know how to teach the content = pedagogical content knowledge
c. Ability to explain concepts, provide examples, use analogies, recognize
common student misconceptions
d. Constructed by teaching content multiple times

2. Preparing Lecture Notes

a. Prose or outline or outlines of key points
b. All the information is there if you need it
c. Visual representations do help student achievement (Hartley, 1976)
d. Note taking may not be useful; students need to listen to lecture

3. Organizing the Lecture

a. Introduction motivates and cues students to important points
i. Expository advance organizer = places new information into
perspective with other related concepts (Example: circulatory
system presented along with brief outline of other systems)
ii. Comparative organizer = provides simple analogy for complex
concept (Example water pipes compared to circulatory system)

b. Body contains organized presentation of new information

i. Incorporate questions
ii. Simple plan is best for adolescent audience
iii. Slides, graphs, figures all help keep attention
iv. Telling stories is sometimes helpful

c. Summaries briefly restate important ideas

i. Typically question-based in interactive lectures
ii. Establish relevancy of material

d. Conclusion summarizes main points and allows for questions

i. Establishes student understanding
ii. Crystallizes most important concepts for students to focus on

4. Presenting Successful Lectures

a. Collaboration between students and teacher
b. Inject your personality and sense of humor
II. The Discussion
A. Uses
1. Ideal for topics without consensus
2. Can initiate inquiry sessions, review material, solve problems
3. Pure form = Free expression of ideas when all are interested and
knowledgeable enough to contribute
4. Rarely the case in science instructions

B. Discussion Types
1. Recitation
a. Teacher asks questions and the students answer
b. Questions based on readings, lectures, labs, etc…
c. Purpose is to determine student understanding and to clarify
d. Low-level questions too often used; becomes drill and review
e. Should allow demonstration of understanding and application to new
f. Questions should be prepared in advance and sequenced
g. Call on volunteers as well as non-volunteers
2. Guided Discussion
a. Help students construct knowledge for themselves
b. Students must have base knowledge to work from
c. More varied interaction pattern than recitation
d. Pace is slower with more development of ideas, clarification of points
e. Questions should aim at higher cognitive levels
f. Students should interpret, explain, apply, illustrate, generalize,
conclude (Wilen, 1990)

3. Reflective Discussion
a. Open expression of ideas
b. Introduce topic and ask initial question, but allow it to go where it will
c. Excellent approach to controversial ideas: AIDS, cloning, nuclear
testing, etc…
d. Conflicting laboratory data can be a good topic
e. Indisputable facts are not good discussion topics
f. Challenge students to think critically and examine beliefs, attitudes
g. No set interaction pattern
h. Not imperative that all students speak up
i. Still rests on students having enough background knowledge
C. Conducting a successful discussion
1. Preparation
a. Nature of the topic: student maturity and interest need considered
b. Physical setting: face-to-face needed, everyone should see if demo.
c. Group Size: 10-20 students is optimum; can use multiple small groups

2. Phases (Kindsvatter, 1996)

a. Entry = teacher identifies topic and what their task is
i. Let students know scope and purpose of discussion
ii. Can use engagement to arouse interest

b. Clarification = rules for discussion, definitions given

i. Let students know role of teacher, themselves
ii. It is ok to question teacher and other students

c. Investigation = actual discussion; teacher questioning skills important

d. Closure: summary of outcome related to prior or new knowledge

i. Often neglected due to lack of time, but most important part
ii. Most important in guided and reflective discussions
III. Oral Questioning
A. Constructing Clear Oral Questions
1. Simple and direct so students grasp intent immediately
a. Use words they are familiar with
b. What is the etiology (cause) of the disease”
c. Don’t sacrifice scientific clarity; use new terms once defined
2. Make sure questions are complete and specific
a. Proteins are made where?
b. The equilibrium constant tells you what?
c. Multiple plausible answers exist to each of these.

B. Lower- and Higher-Order Questions

1. Blooms Taxonomy (1956): knowledge, comprehension, application,
analysis, synthesis, evaluation (p. 117)
a. Use a mixture of lower and higher order questions
b. Common mistake is to only ask lower-order questions
2. Key words: judge, critique, etc… can cue higher order to students
3. Convergent = single or few correct responses = closed questions
4. Divergent = more than one correct answer = open questions
C. Probing and Redirecting Questions
1. Encourage clarifying or justifying previous answer (Probing)
a. What comes next?
b. Why do you say that?
c. What evidence do we have for that?
d. Why do you think that is true?
2. Ask other students to build on a given response (Redirecting)
a. Encourages analysis and critical listening skills
b. Encourages students to pay attention
c. Allows for creative and personal responses
D. Wait Time
1. Wait time beyond 3 seconds has many benefits (Rowe, 1974)
2. Wait time 1 = after question, Wait time 2 = after student answer
a. Failure to respond decreases, and higher-order responses increase
b. Teacher expectations for slow learners increases
E. Target students
1. Teacher questions typically go to low and high achievers
2. Consciously questioning all students improves learning
3. Try keeping track of who you ask questions
IV. The Demonstration
A. Functions
1. Initiate thinking
a. Leaves students searching for an explanation
b. Must present it as a problem to be investigated
c. Don’t immediately reveal the scientific principle involved
d. Paper clips in “full” water glass before surface tension defined
2. Illustrate concept
a. Cloud formation requires a nucleus; 2-liter bottle and match
b. Show how to do a procedure needed for the lesson
c. Streaking a plate of agar, etc…
3. Answering a question
4. Reviewing ideas
5. Introducing and concluding units
6. Addressing student’s conceptions
a. Ask for predictions on how something will behave
b. Use demonstration to contradict common misconception
B. Planning Demonstrations
1. A demonstration is really a performance
2. Sometimes a laboratory might be more effective: if visibility would
be increased, and the materials are cheap and available
3. Should be interesting and visible to all students

4. Phases
a. Introduction
i. Establish the purpose, materials, and what to look for
ii. Sometimes, it is better to tell them the outcome before doing
b. Presentation
i. Event is shown
ii. Questions are asked
iii. Avoid long delays if possible
iv. May have students participate or redo demonstration
c. Conclusion
i. Help students connect to new understanding
ii. May follow with guided discussion
iii. Link to everyday life