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Why Teachers Should Lecture with a Purpose

Updated on April 27, 2013
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History. She also homeschools her children.

Spice up your classroom (and lecture time) with the tips in this article: How to lecture with a purpose.
Spice up your classroom (and lecture time) with the tips in this article: How to lecture with a purpose. | Source

{Summary of Nilson's 'Teaching At Its Best' Chapters 12,19 & 21}

In chapter 12, Nilson (2010) discusses the importance of lecturing with a purpose in mind, noting, “for deep learning and high-order thinking outcomes, more student-active methods such as discussion and inquiry-based learning are more successful” (p. 113).

This writer appreciates Nilson’s sentiments that the lecture should present new material not already discussed in textbook reading (p. 114). No student wants to be read the book; that' simply a waste of valuable test time. Teachers ought to dedicate class time to deepening knowledge and forming analysis on the subjects addressed in the textbook.

Chapter 19 focuses on the concept on the concept of integrating case methods into the college classroom curriculum. Nilson (2010) suggests that cases not only spark interests, but that they increase student attendance.

Consider: Do you lecture with a purpose? Don’t just repeat what is in the textbook. Give real-life examples or models to make the textbook or classroom content come alive!

While this writer has worked on several case projects herself, she appreciates seeing Nilson’s criteria for a good case. Nilson suggests that the case:

  1. be a current or relevant situation
  2. require students to formulate solutions
  3. allow for multiple solutions or valid debate
  4. be important or vital (p. 183)

This writer further appreciates Nilson's explanation and examples of different case types, such as the bullet case, mini-case, vignette, continuous case and the sequential- interactive case that allows for a more diverse learning experience.

Why do some students have problems with quantitative problems?

  • Inaccuracy in reading
  • Inaccuracy in thinking
  • Careless problem analysis
  • Lack of perseverance

When considering adding a case study to your course, consider what makes a good case.

  • Is it realistic?
  • Does it require synthesis?
  • Does it require risk?

Although math and work problems can terrify some students, in chapter 21 Nilson (2010) gives several tips for teachers to help students working on qualitative problems. For example, Nilson points out that students often have bad work habits, such as inaccurately reading the problem, inaccurately thinking about the problem, being careless with analysis and giving up to early on the answer (Nilson, pp. 194-195). While Nilson offered tips to improve student performance, this writer appreciated that Nilson noted conceptual understanding can help students overcome faulty approaches to bad habits. This writer plans to follow Nilson’s advice of supplying process worksheets and group learning activities to help train students to solve problems correctly and build their skills.

VIDEO: This Teacher Employs Lecture Techniques that Employ Class Participation. This tactic ensures that all students understand the material discussed.


Nilson, L.B. (2010). Teaching at its best. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.


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