Interactive Lectures

“…students learn best when they take an active role, when they discuss what they are reading, practice what they are learning, and apply concepts and ideas…”* and this is challenging in a large class. Below are tips and resources for engaging students in large, lecture-based courses.


Ideas for Creating More Interactive Lectures

Stop your lecture at different points and give students a task from which they will report back to the large group. You can ask individuals, pairs, or triads to

  • define a term,
  • pose a question,
  • solve a problem,
  • identify the major points of a lecture
  • identify causes
  • rank items
  • generate examples

Then ask select groups to state their conclusions/answers and see how many groups agree


Involve the whole class in a brainstorming activity.

  • ask students to answer an open-ended question
  • write their ideas on the board without categorization
  • ask students to name the categories themselves as an assignment

Pause during your course for a short, ungraded writing activity.

Require students to become experts on a key term and call on the student when the term is discussed in class.

Adapted and quoted from Davis, B. G. Tools for Teaching, Second EditionSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.



UT Austin Teacher to Teacher: Teaching Large website offers tips, videos, and advice on teaching large classes.

Keys to Effective Lectures from Ferris State University provides practical advice on creating effective lectures.

Twenty Tips for more participatory lectures from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University