Good Practice: Active lectures for Large Groups

Number of Students: 30 up till 400 per session

Workload is close to a traditional lecture. Less material can be covered in class, but typically students are able to learn similar or greater amounts of material due to increased engagement and self-study. 

Typical Activities

  • Breaking up the conventional fifty-minute lecture with questions and discussion is perhaps the first action to consider.
  • Some lecturers begin class by first having students brainstorm problems that remained unresolved from the previous lecture, or raise questions from the previous lecture or their reading assignment. The lecturer can then address these issues while proceeding with the day’s topic, responding to student input while covering new material.
  • Another simple technique to involve students is to pause for a few minutes two or three times during an hour lecture to allow students to consolidate notes and develop questions about the material being presented.
  • Using a simple voting device to stimulate all student to answer questions.
  • Additionally, a lecturer can pause and ask students to work in pairs to organise their notes and discuss the key points of the lecture. Each group could also develop questions based on what they feel is still unclear, and these questions could be addressed in the final minutes of the class or could serve as the starting point for the next lecture.
  • A final effective technique is to have students close their notebooks a few minutes before the end of class and then ask them to reconstruct, on a blank sheet of paper, as much of the lecture as possible–either in outline form or diagrammatically. This exercise in immediate recall forces students to review and consolidate key points, and helps them discover areas for review.
  • Also Consider the Muddiest point in the lecture question? At the end of the lecture students are asked to submit a piece of paper stating the muddiest point of the lecture.


  • Efficiently introduces and structures new materials
  • Allows for extended explanation/demonstration to gain insight into theoretical concepts
  • Offers a platform to introduce cases with real life problems that need to be solved
  • Large groups can be accommodated


  • Does not allow for higher order knowledge to be acquired
  • Little time for interaction/practice
  • When the planning of the lecturer is not adequate, it doesn’t work

Assessment Methods

Summative: Regular assessment, Multiple choice, Short Answer test, Statement test, Cloze test, Assignments, Matching test.

Formative Assessment: Concept Maps, Minute Papers, Hand-out completion, Question Hand in, Quizzes.

dr. R.G. Klaassen, Focus Technische Universiteit Delft

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