Incorporate 'breaks' into your lectures

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During lecture, it is hard to maintain a student's attention. In fact, it's been shown that a student's attention to lecture is substantially lost after about 10 minutes. To overcome this hurdle, take a break after every 10 minutes of lecture. This 'break' refers to offering an activity that re-engages students and gets them ready for another 10 minutes of lecture. In addition to helping students pay attention in class, breaks provide opportunities for instructors to identify and address gaps in understanding.

Here are some simple ways to incorporate breaks into your classes.

  • Ask students to jot down a rough outline of lecture every 10 minutes.
  • Conduct a 5-minute question session after every 10 minutes of lecture, in which students ask questions of the instructor and vice versa.
  • Have students discuss lecture with their neighbors for a 3-5 minute period every 10 minutes of lecture.

William A. McEachern presents these tips and more in his newsletter distributed by CENGAGE learning.

Source: Bligh, Donald A. What's the Use of Lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000. Print.