M 358K Instructor Materials

Tips for Teaching with Minimal Lecturing

(AKA, How to get students to read the book and engage in class discussion.)

I. Students are likely to be more comfortable participating in class (and/or feel more obliged to participate) if you know their names. So make an effort to learn names. Tips on doing this.

II. Try to have a first day activity that requires some oral student participation. This could be as simple as having each student state their name, major, and anything else relevant.

III. Prepare a first-day "handout" (posted on the web rather than handed it out) that states explicitly your expectations for students, including expectations for homework and class participation.
IV. Do  not give reading assignments  that just consist of "Read pp. xxx - yyy." Instead, give extended reading assignments that also include:
  1. A "study guide" that points out things like:
  2. A list of exercises (especially conceptual exercises) to reinforce the reading and for possible class discussion. 
  Click here to see examples of such extended reading assignments (using an old textbook).
V. Do not start class with, "Are there any questions on the reading or exercises?" Instead, start class by asking the class questions on the reading and exercises.
VI. Proceed to more complicated problems
VII. Whenever possible/appropriate, interject comments pointing out "the big picture," or "recurring themes," or why something is important, etc.

VIII. "Are there any questions on the reading or homework that we haven't addressed yet?" might come toward the end of the class.

IX. Note that item V included some tips on classroom management. Here are some more: 
  1.  When you ask the class a question, give students enough time to formulate their answers and get up their nerve to volunteer. I was once told to count silently and slowly to five before calling on someone. I disagree with that advice -- my experience is that it's often necessary  to count (slowly and silently) to thirty or more. That may seem like a long time at first, but it can really help.
  2. Remember that the objective is to get as many students as possible to participate in class discussion. To help accomplish this,

Updated July 4, 2013