Presenting Science Interactively:

The Interactive Lecture


Pair and Compare.  Students pair off with a student nearby and compare lecture notes or presentation information, and fill in what they might have missed. Provide no more than 2 minutes for this.


Pair, compare, and ask. Same as “Pair and compare,” but with the students writing out questions based on the lecture or presentation content. You can then field questions that students can not answer among themselves. About 3 minutes with time for questions.


Periodic free-recall, with pair-and-compare option. Students put away their lecture notes and write down the most important one, two, or three points of your lecture or presentation, as well as any questions they have. Use an overhead the first time you do this outlining the instructions. On later uses, you can just tell them.  In this activity students are asked to review and mentally process your lecture content. In this activity, students can work individually, or in pairs or triads, in which case they can answer each other’s questions. Provide 2 minutes, plus time to answer questions.


Listen, recall, and ask; then pair, compare and answer. Students are allowed only to listen to your presentation---no note-taking allowed---then open their notebooks and jot down all of the major ideas they can recall, as well as questions they have. A good technique is to have the students leave quite a bit of space between main points in their notebook. Then have students pair off and compare lecture notes, filling in what they missed and answering each other’s questions. Again this activity helps students review and mentally process information. Time: 3-4 minutes for individual note-writing, 2-4 minutes for pair fill-ins and question answering, plus time to answer any remaining questions.



Solve a Problem. Students solve a mathematical or word problem based on your presentation. You can use problems from your text for this for examples. Students should work in pairs. Orally describe the problem or present in on an overhead or as a slide in your digital presentation. Time: 1-3 minutes depending upon the problem’s complexity, plus 1-3 minutes to debrief and answer questions.



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Case Study. Students debrief a short case study related to the content of the presentation. The case should be written out (overhead or digital slide) and should be based on a realistic application of the content of the presentation. Once the case is presented, have the students work in pairs or triads to debrief using the following questions: What are the problems? What are the solutions? How could these problems have been prevented? Time: 3-8 minutes depending upon the case’s length and complexity, plus 10-15 minutes for class discussion and debate.

Pair/group and discuss open-ended question. Students pair off or get into small groups to discuss an open-ended question that asks them to apply, analyze or evaluate material from your presentation. Open-ended questions should have multiple correct answers. Some suggestions for structuring the questions include the following. Ask comparative questions to compare and contrast different theories, for example. Ask connective questions that challenge students to link facts, concepts and theories. You can ask critical questions in which students examine or evaluate the validity of a particular argument or research claim. Or you might ask a brainstorm question, asking students to generate alternative responses to a question, e.g. “what are some possible explanations for global warming?” Time: 3-10 minutes depending upon the complexity of the question, plus 5-15 minutes for class discussion.


Pair/group and review. Same as above but with an essay question designed for pre-exam review. Students in selected groups present their answers to the class, while you provide feedback and explain your criteria for the feedback. Time: 3-10 minutes, depending upon the question’s complexity, plus 5-15 minutes for pair/group discussion.


Pair/group and experience an EEEP.  Students pair off or get into small groups. You present an EEEP that relates to the content. Students work in their groups to offer explanation. Provide each group with a “white board” or large sheet of paper on which they draw and diagram of the EEEP phenomenon and use it to explain their ideas. Time: 3-5 minutes for presentation of EEEP and group discussion, plus 4-8 minutes for random selection of team explanations and discussion.