The Work Matters

A Guide for New Faculty Teaching at City Tech

Fostering Learning Through Interaction

Adsit (2011) provides tips for lectures that are engaging, informative and participatory.

Audience Engagement and Interactivity
Audience attention wanes after 12-20 minutes. Design your class sessions with “activity breaks” to allow your students to process, review and apply the material that you present.

You might:

  • Ask a question or pose a problem to be solved individually
  • Have students work in pairs or trios on a problem or discuss a question
  • Use a video or film clip to illustrate the topic
  • Present a case study for discussion

Tip: Quick-Thinks (Johnston & Cooper, 1997)

Incorporate active-thinking opportunities in lectures by pausing every 12-18 minutes for two minutes for students to discuss and rework their notes.
Quick-Think questions:

  • Select the best response
  • Correct the error
  • Complete a sentence starter
  • Compare or contrast
  • Support a statement
  • Reorder the steps
  • Reach a conclusion
  • Paraphrase the idea

Tip: Feedback Lecture (Johnston & Cooper, 1997)

Give two, twenty-minute lectures per class meeting with an instructor-posed discussion question after each twenty-minute lecture.

Ask Questions
Ask conversation starters, questions that are provocative and open-ended.

Conversation starters include:

  • Discuss the choices on a multiple choice question;
  • Select the best response from a range of choices
  • Ask students to discuss in small groups how to rephrase a concept or question with new or different terms
  • Write one question from the prior session on an index card and group the cards by responses; have students answer the questions

Avoid asking “Are there any questions?” The question suggests a “Yes” or “No” response. According to Adsit (2011), students have been conditioned to see this question as the termination of a segment, and either wish to move on or are reluctant to show that they have a question.

Dreyfuss, A.E., Jordan, J., Rajaram, K., Caka, M. (2014). (2nd Ed.). The work matters:
A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY.
Online at

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The Work Matters: A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY by A.E. Dreyfuss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.