Session 4

This session will explore how to organize and deliver a lecture. It will help you understand how to organize content and use verbal and non-verbal communication to keep your students’ attention and increase learning.

1. In this session…

You will first read articles and prepare ideas that will be discussed in the videos. Next, you will watch video lectures where you will be instructed to pause and engage in a variety of activities, as well as think about the questions posed.

The outline is provided to serve as a guide to the session and serve as a support for note taking.

Download Session 4 Outline [ PDF / DOC ]
Download Complete Session 4 Video [ ZIP, 208 MB, 540 p ]

2. Learning Objectives

After completing this session, the participant will be able to:

  • Explain how the structure of a lecture can influence learning.
  • Explain effective means of communication during lecture.
  • Critique and evaluate lectures.

3. Pre-Session Activity


  • Curzan, A., & Damour, L. (2006). Chapter 3: Weekly class preparation. In First day to final grade: A graduate student’s guide to teaching(2nd ed., pp. 31–44). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
  • Gross-Davis, B. (1993). Chapter 12: Preparing to teach the large lecture course. In Tools for teaching (pp. 99–110). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


  • Watch Professor Walter Lewin’s Physics 8.01 OCW lecture on simple harmonic motion with his classic demonstration of the independence of the mass and the period of the pendulum (Lecture 10).
    • Lewin, W. (1999). Physics I: Classical Mechanics [Video]. MIT OpenCourseWare. Retrieved from
  • Identify specific techniques and strategies that Lewin uses to engage the class.

4. Session Introduction

Welcome to the fourth session! Our topic for this session is preparing and presenting a lecture. We will begin the session with a few questions based on the pre-session activities, as well as your own experiences as a student and teacher. The first part of this session will begin by exploring what structure and lecture formats work best to maximize student attention. The second part of the session will concentrate on best practices of content delivery and effective communication strategies that you can integrate into your lecture delivery method to increase student attention.

Think About

  1. What are traditional lectures good for?
  2. What are traditional lectures bad for?

5. Preparing a Lecture: Variability of Instruction Methods

The first part of this session will talk about how to structure your lecture and the types of lecture formats to consider when deciding how to organize the content of your lectures.


For a concept you would like to teach:

  1. Determine the goal and learning objectives for that concept.
  2. Think about the material you will cover to support teaching of that concept.
  3. Choose a lecture format that will be appropriate and justify your decision.

6. Delivering a Lecture: Learning from Actors

You have now planned and prepared a lecture. In this part of the session we will discuss the actual delivery of the lecture.

7. Delivering a Lecture: Visuals

After discussing how to present a lecture, we now need to return to other aspects of delivering your lecture. In this part of the session we will discuss a few principles regarding the selection and use of presentation tools during your lecture.

Think About

Answer the following questions about Professor Lewin’s lecture that you previously watched:

  1. What makes the lecture work so well?
  2. What would you change about the lecture?

8. Post-Session Activity


Watch a lecture of your choosing on MIT’s OpenCourseWare and evaluate the lecture using the guidelines of an effective lecture discussed during this session titled Preparing and Presenting a Lecture. In your evaluation, do not include the subject number or the instructor’s name, but do reference the discipline and type of course (for example, introductory physics course). Make sure to note the effective methods and strategies utilized by the instructor, and include ways for the instructor to be more engaging to improve student learning.

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