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I just started teaching three courses at small medical training college: anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and microbiology. Most of the students have a weak background in the sciences, and come from varying professional/educational backgrounds.

I currently end up preparing 4-5 hours for each hour that I end up lecturing. But find it difficult to keep the students engaged for the duration of the lecture. Any advice on improving teaching/ lecturing methods?

  • possible duplicate of How to improve myself as a lecturer? – earthling Mar 15 '13 at 23:44
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    @earthling I think this question is different in the sense that most of the students have a weak science background. – scaaahu Mar 16 '13 at 1:42
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    I saw that after I posted my question. scaaahu is correct--the students I am teaching have a very weak science background. – Cerberus Mar 16 '13 at 6:51
  • If the students don't concentrate for the full hour you could try a 5-10 minute break in the middle in which you ask them to solve some problems or discuss a problem in small groups. Getting them to report back on this helps to make the class interactive, and you find out what they've understood and what they haven't. – Matthew Towers Mar 16 '13 at 14:39
  • I currently end up preparing 4-5 hours for each hour that I end up lecturing — Yeah, that sounds about right. – JeffE Jan 6 '16 at 15:27
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Teaching 'unprepared' students is always a challenge and prep takes a lot of time (four to five hours of prep for one hour of lecturing sounds about right...and maybe a bit low). So, overall, your numbers seem to be inline with norms.

If you want to make your teaching more effective, you should read some books about teaching (there are many). You should read this question for some ideas on improving yourself as a lecturer.

Generally, 'active learning' - where the student is the focus of the learning process (as opposed to the lecturer being the center) - focuses on engaging students, putting the load on their shoulders. Group work is particularly useful. I've seen studies (not handy) that say that in every learning situation, group learning (e.g., group discussion) always improves the learning effectiveness.

You should do more prep and you should do less in class (they should do the work in class) and they should do work outside of class. All of this needs your careful planning but some students will think they you are not doing anything...but they will end up learning more in the end.

  • earthling thanks..that question was very useful. Will try to incorporate group work, but have limited class time, and tons of martial to cover. – Cerberus Mar 16 '13 at 7:05
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    @Cerberus One thing that I've learned from experience (especially with weaker students) is that it is much better to teach less and teach it better. Good luck! – earthling Mar 16 '13 at 10:08
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My strategy is to focus on very few topics during one class (1 or, at most, 2, depending on time) and cover them in-depth. Generally, I try to link the topics over the whole course together as much as I can.

This is a lot of work and weaker students sometimes think they see repeats (which they don't), but the knowledge tends to sink in better this way.

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