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Group Presentations

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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Keep in mind that learning is enhanced when learners are actively involved. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan for including learner participation activities when lecturing. Also, to facilitate learners? understanding of the material, lectures should be clear and well organized.


The posting below has some good advice on how to make your lectures more effective and thereby increase student learning. It is from Chapter 9: Developing Instructional Materials, in DESIGNING EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION, Fourth Edition by Gary M. Morrison (Wayne State University), Steven M. Ross (University of Memphis), Jerrold E. Kemp (Professor Emeritus, San Jose State University). Copyright 2004 ? John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis


UP NEXT: Active Waiting

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning


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In the group presentation or lecture method, the instructor tells, shows, demonstrates, dramatizes, or otherwise disseminates subject content to a group of learners. This pattern can be utilized in a classroom, an auditorium, or a variety of locations through the use of radio, amplified telephone, closed-circuit television transmission, interactive distance television, or satellite communication (teleconferencing).

While lecturing, the teacher may include media materials, such as transparencies, recordings, slides, video recordings, or multimedia presentations, either singly or in multi-image combination. These

activities illustrate the one-way transmission of information from instructor to learners, often for a set period of time (generally a 40- to 50-minute class period). In small classes there may be some degree of two- way communication between teacher and learners, but most frequently, learners are passively listening and watching.


The benefits of choosing a group presentation method to accomplish certain learning objectives include the following:

-A lecture format is familiar and conventionally acceptable to both instructor and learners. This method is the most common form of instructional delivery.

-Lectures can often be fairly quickly designed since the instructor is familiar wit the material and will make the actual presentation. The designer often works with the subject-matter expert to provide the instructor with a list of objectives and a topic outline with the unwritten agreement that the instructor will follow the outline. The assumption is that the instructor can make the necessary strategy decisions. This strength is a particular advantage when instruction is needed to address a critical, short-term need.

-A lecture places the instructor in direct control of the class and in a visible authority position. For some instructors and in many teaching contexts, these factors are advantageous for achieving the objectives.

-Large numbers of learners can be served at one time with a lecture. The group is limited only by the size of the room; thus, lectures can be highly economical.

-As instructional needs change, a presentation can be easily modified by deleting content or adding new content just before or even during the delivery. Also, the presentation can be easily adapted for a specific group of learners (e.g., made longer or shorter, more or less difficult).

-Lectures are a feasible method of communicating when the information requires frequent changes and updates or when the information is relevant for only a short time period, such as the implementation of a new travel policy.

-A good lecture can be motivating and interesting for students.


The group presentation method of instruction suffers from the following limitations:

-Learning is typically very passive, involving listening, watching, and taking notes, with little or no opportunity for exchanging ideas with the instructor.

-To maintain learners? attention during a presentation, the lecturer needs to be interesting, enthusiastic, and challenging.

-When an instructor lectures, demonstrates, shows a video, or otherwise presents subject content to a class of learners, the assumption is made that all learners are acquiring the same understanding, with the same level of comprehension, at the same time. They are forced to learn at a

pace set by the teacher. Thus, lectures are not adaptive to individual differences.

-If questioning is permitted, instruction stops and all learners must wait until the question is answered before the presentation can proceed.

-In a large lecture class, it is difficult for the instructor to receive individual feedback from learners pertaining to misunderstandings and difficulties encountered during the presentation. Thus, some learners may leave the class with incorrect learning.

-A presentation may be inappropriate for teaching psychomotor and affective objectives, as these objectives typically require some form of practice or active learning environment.

-A large-group presentation may vary from presentation to presentation. Thus, the consistency of information and topics covered may not be the same for any two groups. This problem is particularly relevant when the training needs to be consistent, such as when teaching policies or


-Students who have difficult with auditory learning will be at a disadvantage throughout the presentation.


There are specific situations and times at which a presentation to a group of learners is most valuable:

-As an introduction, overview, or orientation to a new topic

-To create interest for a subject or topic

-To present basic or essential information as common background before learners engage in small-group or individual activities

-To introduce recent developments in a field, especially when preparation is limited

-To provide such resources as a one-time guest speaker, a video, or other visual presentation that can most conveniently and efficiently be shown to the whole group at one time

-To provide opportunities for learners to make their own presentations as reports to the class

-As a review or summary when the study of the topic or unit is concluded

-To teach a large group of learners in a highly economical manner

Guidelines for Effective Lecturing

Keep in mind that learning is enhanced when learners are actively involved. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan for including learner participation activities when lecturing. Also, to facilitate learners? understanding of the material, lectures should be clear and well organized. We recommend the following components:

-Active interaction with the instructor. Prepare questions to use at various points during the verbal presentation; encourage or direct learners to answer and enter into discussion with the instructor. Decide on places to stop a presentation (often at the conclusion of a section or

the end of information presented on a concept), and ask questions to measure understanding and encourage discussion.

-Now taking. Encourage note taking by learners so that they will actively work with the material. Notes taken in the students? own words are useful in producing meaningful learning rather than rote memorization.

-Handouts. Consider preparing structured notes on topics requiring the leaner to (1) fill in an outline of content (e.g., structured notes), (2) complete diagrams that accompany visuals used in the presentation, (3) write replies to questions, (4) solve problems, and (5) make applications

of content and concepts as the presentation proceeds. Learners can also complete self-check exercises or quizzes of the content presented. The key is to stimulate active processing of the information. For this reason, detailed notes are generally not recommended, since they eliminate

the need for the students to generate their own. Other forms of handouts include slides from a multimedia presentation such as PowerPoint that allows you to print three slides per page with room for notes.

-Other mental activity. Encourage thinking by helping learners verbalize answers mentally to rhetorical or direct questions that you or another learner pose. You can also ask learners to formulate their own questions relating to the materials for use in follow-up, small-group sessions.

-Terminology. Use clear terminology and meaningful examples to illustrate concepts.

-Organization. Organize the lecture by constructing an outline. Bring the outline (or note cards) to the presentation and talk ?from? it rather than reading it verbatim (a guaranteed painful experience for listeners). Unless you are very accomplished as a lecturer and highly familiar with

the presentation, do not try to speak extemporaneously; a frequent result is a disorganized and rambling presentation.

-Enthusiasm. Show enthusiasm and interest in your subject.

-Format. A standard model (adapted from Slavin, 1994) is as follows:

1. Orient the students to the topics (an outline, story, or overview).

2. Review prerequisites.

3. Present the material in a clear, organized way.

4. Ask questions.

5. Provide independent practice.

6. Review and preview.


Slavin, R.E. (1994). Educational psychology (4th ed.). Needham Heights,

MA: Allyn & Bacon.