Breaking Up a Lecture

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Combat students' short attention spans

One way to combat short student attention spans is to break your classes into chunks of 15-20 minutes and then provide a change of pace.

The breaks can take a variety of forms. You can use clicker questions, media clips, group work, a story, example, demonstration, or experiment to recharge your classes. The advantage of this approach is twofold. First, it appeals to a variety of learning types rather than simply relying on lecture. Second, by switching learning styles this refocuses the class’ attention and makes the return to lecture more productive.

I rarely go longer then 30 minutes before switching teaching techniques. However, there is one word of caution if you are new to this approach. Breaking up the lecture must be intentional and create value added. So showing a funny YouTube video that has nothing to do with economics falls short.

Want to see some examples of how I’ve integrated unique things into a lecture? Check out the Class Activities in our media library! One of my favorites includes asking students to eat Twinkies to demonstrate diminishing Marginal Value!

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