Putting the "Sticky" in Lectures

By Peter Connor

"Lectures should be organized in [ways that aid] comprehension and retention"” (Knight, 2002). That being the case: What is it you want your students to comprehend? What is it you want them to retain? Deciding this before preparing your lecture establishes clear learning objectives.

So—if you could boil it down to one or two essentials—what is it that you most want to have "stick"” in your students’ minds after your lecture? One week later? One month? What do you most want your students to know, or be able to do?

Solve a particular type of problem?

Understand the history of a major socio-political issue?

Explain a specific method for collecting statistical data?

Whatever it is you boil it down to, you have to give it some "sticky." Build your entire lecture around it and strive to avoid getting too far off-task, or message, with tangential digressions.  

As with any public speech, your lecture should consist of three main sections: an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. Each should be an iterative tool reinforcing your objective.

From the Program for Instructional Innovation at the University of Oklahoma, here is a simple solution for putting the "sticky" into your lecture:

In the introduction, tell your students what you’re going to tell them.

In the body, tell them what you told them you were going to tell them.

Lastly, in your conclusion, tell them what you just told them.


Knight, A.B., (n.d.). Lectures: Organizing them and making them interesting. In Ideas on teaching. Retrieved September 2, 2008, from http://www.ou.edu/pii/tips/ideas/lectures.html

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This Teaching Tip was adapted from material developed by the Program for Instructional Innovation at the University of Oklahoma.


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor