Monday, March 30, 2009

10 commandments of lecturing

Over at Inside Higher Ed, Rob Weir offers his own "10 Commandments of Lecturing". I should say that these are more like 10 commandments of teaching, period, but it's an excellent list (enumerated below the fold).

I. Thou shalt connect new lectures to previous ones.
II. Thou shalt move beyond chalk and talk.
III. Thou shalt not lecture like a caffeinated hummingbird or a tree sloth.
IV. Thou shalt not assume too much.
V. Thou shalt link known to unknown.
VI. Thou shalt be enthusiastic.
VII. Thou shalt not be a pompous ass.
VIII. Thou shalt not tolerate disruptive or disrespectful students.
IX. Thou shalt not lecture outdoors.
X. Thou shalt seize learning moments.

I have to say I've violated IX (hey, I teach in California -- outside is inviting!) and try super hard on I. So ISW readers:
- Which of Weir's commandments do you routinely disobey?
- Which of his commandments are diligent in obeying?
- Are there any commandments that need to be added?


  1. If by moving 'beyond chalk and talk' you mean powerpoint slides, then I hate that. The best lecturers I've had and the classes I've done best in were ones where the lecturers just chalk and talked.

    But if you mean there needs to be engagement and participation, i.e. opportunities for questions and comments, then yeah. I would agree.

  2. I second aaronweingott's comment. Sometimes, it is useful to use Powerpoint, videos etc, but a good lecturer should be able to entrance a class by the power of chalk and talk alone.

  3. As a college senior, I have never taken a class in which I thought that PowerPoint presentations made for effective lectures. I absolutely hate them.

  4. The one I occasionally violate that I definitely shouldn't is III (caffeinated hummingbird).

    I've also violated IX, which I think is merely an apocryphal commandment, and I've deliberately violated X when something has come up that I didn't think I could handle in a way that would not lead to confusion on other, more important things, given how much time I actually have. And while I do move beyond chalk and talk, I don't do so every lecture.

    I do very well with VI, but I plead the fifth on whether I violate VII.

  5. I like the list, though I think I'm occasionally guilty of assuming too much (IV). I don't think (II) is meant to be urging Powerpoint so much as the dull write, explain, write, explain that I sometimes find myself guilty of. I also occasionally teach outside, but his points are spot-on. Exam questions from outside days are never as well-answered as those from days in the classroom.

    There doesn't seem to be anything here about preparation here, though. Giving a lecture is much easier than preparing a good one, I find. Also, what about:

    XI: Thou shalt get out from behind the podium and thy notes.

  6. I fear that I violate III on occasion, but only because I adhere religiously to VI. I also think I have problems with IV and (as a result) V.

    I agree with Adam: There ought to be a commandment about preparing one's lectures carefully.

  7. I've been working on obeying II, and I believe I'm succeeding, though I think I still have a ways to go.

    I occasionally violate IX. But only in small upper-division classes (around 15 students or fewer). And in part I do it to escape a particular room I often teach those classes in, which is often uncomfortably hot and oppressive.

    The big one for me is IV. More specifically, my problem is not so much that I assume too much, but that I assume that it will take me about 5 minutes to provide the 'background' for a class, when in fact it will take me 45 minutes.

  8. Kind of curious if you had any problems with lecturing outdoors...


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