Re-engage Students' Attention

One of the simplest things you can do to hold students’ attention during lectures is to move around.
by LSA Learning & Teaching Technology Consultants

Moving around while lecturing keeps students engaged. They are less likely to be distracted in class by phones and email if the lecturer is active while presenting, giving them more to focus on than purely audio input. Variety grabs attention!

Changing the volume of your voice, expressing enthusiasm for the topic with hand movements and gestures, taking steps toward different parts of the audience, all these can encourage students to get excited about a topic. TED Talk presenters, comedians, and other stage performers are adept at this practice. For an example, take a look at this video. < https://youtu.be/1zpf8H_Dd40 or https://youtu.be/cef35Fk7YD8>

In addition to the attention-attracting value of movement in general, moving toward individuals, or even just a section of the room, can encourage them to respond to the speaker. Microphones for both the instructor and the students are essential if this practice is to be successful in large lecture halls. Most large LSA classrooms have wireless microphones for faculty, and many have CatchBox microphones that can be passed around among students. Ask LSA Operations about what’s available in your room!

In smaller classrooms, moving around may be more of a challenge; a clutter of coats and backpacks can make it difficult to move about freely, especially in the winter months. But even a few steps sideways can help re-engage students’ attention, in a room that small.

Some of the benefits of The Power of Teaching by Walking Around (TBWA) are:

  • Students feel the presence of the teacher - the teacher is no distant object and not just a PowerPoint reader.

  • There is a free and open exchange of communication - students will understand the importance of learning and active participation.

  • Students receive timely and high quality feedback - as the teacher walks around the students should be asked relevant questions.

  • Opportunity to develop mutual respect - as the teacher get closer to students there is an opportunity to develop mutual respect.

  • Opportunity to understand unspoken words, body language and facial expression. 

  • Establishment of long-term relationship between teacher and student - mutual relationships in class may grow well beyond the classroom. 1

To discuss how you might work this approach into your own lectures, contact the Learning and Teaching Technology Consultants at lsa-iss-ltc@umich.edu

 

Citations

  1. Rick Reis, The Power of Teaching by Walking Around (TBWA), Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/1192, accessed December 20th, 2019.

Release Date:
01/16/2020