16 Jan 1998 ............... Length about 900 words (6,000 bytes).
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Giving lecture notes or OHPs to students
There will be a seminar at 1pm on Wed. 4th March. at ILRG
on "Giving lecture notes or OHPs to students".
Room 593, Graham Hills Building, Strathclyde University.
The format will be more discussion than lecture.
The question is, why do many people join electronic discussion lists but then
The format will be a discussion.
The question is should we hand out printed
lecture notes, and if so what is the optimum format for these? This is both a
simple practical issue in our teaching, and also one that relates to deep
issues of what best promotes learning.
My own starting points are:
- Students often want handouts that reproduce a lecture's material. In any
lecture, we should consider what task the students are in effect required to
perform. If that task is taking dictation or notes, then they cannot be
understanding or learning. Is this an efficient use of their time?
- Even taking dictation is at least a kind of mental processing.
If you give them notes, they (teachers fear) do nothing at all and the
learning effect is even less.
- Andrew Ravenscroft found in work at Leeds, that the most popular online
resource was Word documents with lecture notes in: far more valued by students
than expensive "interactive" tutorial software. They printed the notes out
triple spaced, and annotated them during lectures, as well as being able to
preview and review them afterwards. (N.B. this of course is actually much more
interactive in reality and in mental processing than the other software.)
- If I give students a handout covering a lecture, I and many others feel that
to maximise value the handout and the talk should cover the same points in
different ways: value by paraphrase, just as when asked to explain or even
repeat something I deliberately vary its expression to allow listeners to
- If I actually ask students about this, there is a volume of complaints that
this variation is in fact disruptive. Their task in the lecture then becomes
trying to decide
what bit of the talk and OHPs corresponds to what bit of the handout. While
worrying about that, they can't think about the content. The solution is to
reproduce the OHPs exactly in the handout: visual identity so that the matching
- Even better is to reproduce the visual appearance of OHPs with lots of blank
space for their own notes.
- Many OHPs (perhaps 90% in the typical talk or lecture) are there for the
speaker, not the audience. Perhaps they shouldn't be displayed, except to the
- The hardest thing for me as a teacher is to realise what task the students are
actually performing in the lecture theatre. In sitting in on a colleague's
lecture, I felt it was very slow. Then I tried taking notes of the kind
students have to. I could barely keep up. I was entirely unable to imagine
what that was like without doing it. Students are in the position you would be
in if you had access to a paper only once (you would never be able to borrow or
xerox it again), and furthermore someone else was turning the pages at a
predetermined rate you couldn't control. They have to concentrate on capturing
this ephemeral stuff.
- Christine Howe expressed the view that syntheses should not be given to
learners: they must construct them themselves. Is this view in conflict?