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• Build in a little ‘warm-up’ time at the start of each lecture to enable you to have a ‘soft start’. In other words, start doing something useful with the students (for example, reminding them of three important points from last week, or quizzing them gently), so that the really important things aren’t missed by most late-comers.
What can I do when the technology lets me down?
This happens to just about all of us! For example, your slides disappear, or freeze! The thing notto do is to struggle for ages, with the undivided attention of the whole group, with a mouse, a remote control, a keyboard, or any other piece of technology. Alternatives include:
• Smile, rather than sweat! Even if inside you’re quite tense about it, it’s best to give the impression of being cool about it, even when you’re not. Prepare for this by always having a  exible task ready for the students to do while you sort things out. For example, give your students a discussion task to
do - something to talk about to those sitting next to them - a decision to reach, a problem to solve, and so on. It’s a good idea always to have such a task ready and waiting. Then when they’re all busy and eyes are off you, you can try to rescue the technology.
• Ask for help. “Anyone know how to  x this please?” quite often brings a competent volunteer from the  oor. Sometimes, you can obtain technical support, but it remains advisable to give the students something else to do until help materialises.
• Recognise when the problem is terminal - for example when the bulb has failed in a ceiling mounted data projector. If
it’s towards the end of a session, wind up. Remind your students of the intended learning outcomes, and promise
to cover anything important that remains outstanding on a future occasion - or to put the relevant slides on Vision. Your students won’t mind you stopping early - it won’t be the worst thing that’s happened to them that week!
What can I do when attendance drops off during a series of lectures?
It could be, of course, that your students are getting bored - or tired - or are busy trying to catch up and be ready for someone else’s assignment deadline. Whatever the cause of absenteeism, one or more of the following tactics may help.
• Don’t wait an inordinate time for more students to appear. Those who came punctually deserve to be getting some value, so get started even if the audience is sparse.
• Find ways outside the lecture room to ask a few students why they missed a particular session. Don’t however nag them and tell them how unwise they are being - keep to fact- nding till you know more about what’s going on.
• Link sessions clearly to the published course/programme outline or assessment agenda. Students don’t like to miss out on (for example) clari cation of what a typical exam question could reasonably ask of them, or some helpful hints on how best to tackle a coursework assignment.
• Don’t vent your frustration on the students who do turn up. Make them feel welcome and valued.
• Try for added value. Make sure that the students who do turn up feel that it’s been well worth turning up. Give them a useful and enjoyable learning experience.
• Recognise that it’s not just you: globally lecturers are reporting that students’ attendance is not what it was for all sorts of complex reasons, but do discuss it with colleagues to see if this is a phenomenon everyone is experiencing with this cohort.
• Find out about your School’s attendance monitoring policy. In some contexts this is a requirement.
What can I do if students are talking in my lecture?
Many lecturers get upset by this, and clearly if students can’t hear you over each other’s chatter, the situation becomes untenable.
• Don’t just carry on trying to ignore it. That often makes the problem get worse. Pause, looking at the people who are talking until they stop - or until the other students shut them up for you.
• Don’t necessarily assume they’re just being rude. Sometimes, one will have asked another to explain or repeat something that has been missed. Sometimes non-native speakers could be translating what you say into another language for each other.
• Acknowledge that you may have been talking yourself for
too long, and give them something to talk about with near neighbours. In other words, legitimise their talking for a few minutes, and let them get the need to talk out of their system.
• Note any persistent ‘talkers’ but resist the temptation to confront them in front of the whole group. Instead,  nd a time to talk to them on their own, and explore how they’re  nding your lectures.
• You can often minimise such behaviours by moving around the room, going closer to the students who are talking without pretending that you’ve noticed their behaviour.
• Don’t ask an ‘offender’ to leave! If they actually refuse to leave, you’ll have a much more dif cult problem to deal with. Never issue a threat that you would not in practice be able to carry out.
What can I do if I come to the end and there are still 15 minutes to go? Possibilities include:
• Say “this is a good place to stop this particular session” and re-visit the intended learning outcomes for a moment or two, then wind up. Your students will not be terminally disappointed!
• Have with you a revision activity - for example a set of short, sharp quiz questions on your lectures to date with the group, and give them a quick- re quiz until the time has been used up.
• Give out post-its (or use mobile devices) and ask students to write any questions they would like to ask about the subject, then pass the post-its down to you. Choose which questions to answer to the whole group until the time is used up.
• Put up a slide of a past exam question on the topic you’ve been covering, and explain to students a little about what would be expected in answer to that question.
• Ask the students to jot down the two most important things they now know, that they didn’t know when the lecture started. Then get them to compare with their neighbours, and invite volunteers to read out a few such things.
• Give a brief overview of what’s coming next - for example showing the students the intended learning outcomes for the next couple of lectures.
FURTHER READING
Brown, S. and Race, P. (2002) Lecturing: A Practical Guide. London: Routledge
Exley, K. and Dennick, R. (2009) Giving a lecture: From presenting to teaching, Abingdon: Routledge
Wilson, K. and Korn, J. H. (2007) Attention during lectures: Beyond ten minutes, Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), pp.85-89.
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