Below are presented a number of activities that can be used during lectures. Of course, all examples may be varied and there are many other useful activities out there. Link to learning activities before and after the lecture. Link to Flipped Classroom.

Activities during the lecture

  1. Quiz, test and poll: The purpose of using technologies for quiz, test and poll can be to activate students in large classes and engage them in quick reflections and responses to your open questions and quizzes.These can be prepared in advance but also really quick on the spot. Example of learning activity: You create the quiz. Students answer individually. In pairs the students will compare own answers and discuss which answer might actually be correct. After a couple of minutes with this peer reflection activity a new "voting" is generated. Research confirms that students will not automatically vote the same as the “bright” students. They will correct their answer based on discussion and reflection. According to research, students make better results at the final assessment using these techniques. Additionally this method is highly motivating and good fun. Here is an idea catalogue of how to activate students with polling. As for the technology, you can use a number of features in learnIT or use audience response systems such as Mentimeter (contact for a full license).
  2. Stop up questions: stop after 15 minutes of lecturing and pose a medium complex question that the students in pairs must discuss for 5 minutes. Or ask each student to produce a question for the other student and let her/him respond and argue. Ask the students to stand up and turn to the person behind/in front of them while doing this exercise. This way they bring in some energy.
  3. Dynamic questioning: While lecturing remember to ask questions to the class that demand insight and reflection. Don't only ask "yes/no" questions. Ask more complex questions. Ask why and in which case. Don't only ask those who raise their hand. But let them discuss first in pairs and be co-responsible for he answer.
  4. Quick group problem solving task: Required time for the exercise is 15 minutes. Prepare a small task of problem solving to be solved in groups of 2-3. All groups must prepare a solution and choose somebody to present the solution. Give them 5-6 minutes. Choose one group/presenter and let her/him illustrate the solution on the board.If possible, prepare a task that demands a visual solution. We need to stimulate the visual learning and memory as well. Don't worry that you only check the competences of one group. The others will have been working actively anyway, and can reflect on their own solutions based on the presentations. During the presentation, don't tell what is wrong and what is right. Ask questions instead like: Why did you choose to..? Or let the other students ask questions. Read step-by-step here.
  5. Three minutes paper: Required time is 10 minutes:You will ask students to spend individually 2-3-minutes to write down the major points about use of X. They may choose to do so either as a summary, a description of application in your own practice, formulate some questions that you have about this subject, list you own good tips for structuring, designing and using x. Read step-by-step here.
  6. Half sheet response: Do your lecture about concept X for 15-20 minutes. Then ask students to use half a page and 5-10 minutes to sketch a response to either:
    1. What do you think about this concept?
    2. Give an example of this concept
    3. Explain this concept in your own words
    4. How does this concept relate your own experience?
    5. How could you use this concept in your own work/studies?
    Then have a plenary discussion of their answers for 10 minutes.
  7. Think pair energizer: Quick learning activity. The method is adequate for more or less complex open academic “problems” for which there is no exact right or wrong answer. An example of how to let students work with theory in practice and thereby construct a deeper understanding. (In this example the students have been lectured on how to formulate intended learning outcomes according the Prof. Biggs' theory on SOLO taxonomy).
    1. Formulate 1 intended learning outcome of a course that you could teach ( spend 1 minute on this)
    2. Stand up
    3. Turn around to the row behind you (if possible: take a few steps around the room to create some energy)
    4. Meet at peer student
    5. Tell your fellow student about your solution and ague for it (1 minute)
    6. Now it’s the other way around (1 minute)
    7. Tell each other why you think his/her solution could be useful/not so useful (2 minutes) with respect to the required framework (here SOLO taxonomy)
    After the exercise, ask in plenary one couple which perspectives they discussed (1-2 minute). Maybe pick a couple of students that normally does not put up their hand. Use their answer and reflections to elaborate further on the issue in your lecture.
  8. Power Points: Power Points seem inevitable. You don’t have to use power points while lecturing. Ever heard of "death by bullet point"? Power Points can be useful for giving an overview or moving images or graphics and other things if you know how to use them in an effective manner. In “The lecturer’s Toolkit” Phil Race has produced a useful set of pedagogical do’s and don’ts for power points. Take a look at pages 112-119 and 100-104. Read more about slides in the file from the Basic Lecturing workshop.
  9. (Interactive) Board instead of (static) power points: Use the board as a dynamic collaborative tool. Invite the students to develop models, solutions, tables etc. in collaboration and dialogue with you. This way the students are obliged to participate in the progression and not allowed only to be presented with the result and your explanation.
  10. Giving life to lectures. Watch video clips of how to make lectures more alive.
  11. Basic lecturing (slides from teachIT workshop)
  12. Large classes and active lectures (slides from another teachIT)


Particularly recommended
  • The Melbourne Sessional Teachersʼ Handbook Advice and Strategies for small group teaching at the University of Melbourne Second Edition
  • Biggs & Tang: Teaching for quality learning at university, 2011, pp.133-57
  • McKeachie, Wilbert J.: McKeachie's teaching tips, Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (2002), Eleventh edition. Read in particular: Chapter 6, "How to make lectures more effective"
  • Cortright, Ronald N. e.a.: Peer instruction enhanced meaningful learning: ability to solve novel problems (2005). Read article online
  • Quintin Vincens: Building students’ knowledge one click at a time, Læring & Medier 10, 2013

Also worth reading
Angelo & Cross: Classroom assessment techniques (1993)
Duncan, Douglas: Clickers in the Classroom (2005)
Duncan, Douglas: Clickers: A new teaching aid with exceptional promise (2006). Read pdf online.
Mazur, E.: Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual (1997)
Race, Phil: The lecturer's Toolkit, 3rd edition