Using Punctuated Lectures to Empower Students

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Using Punctuated Lectures to Empower Students

A punctuated lecture is a metacognitive strategy that helps students become aware of the behaviors they exhibit during a lecture. These behaviors (fidgeting, daydreaming, distraction) are unconsciously expressed and may impact student learning in the classroom. In becoming self-aware during class, students can begin to take control of their behaviors and be more accountable for their learning.

Punctuated Lectures: The Process

In this strategy, the teacher and students engage in five steps: Listen, Stop, Reflect, Write and Feedback.

  • Listen: Students listen to a lecture.
  • Stop: After a designated time period, the teacher stops the lecture.
  • Reflect: Students are given time to reflect on their actions and thoughts during the lecture. They are prompted to think about what they were doing and analyze whether those behaviors helped or hindered their understanding of the topic.
  • Write: Students write down their insights. The information is processed and students determine how they can use the information to modify or change existing behaviors.
  • Feedback: Students give feedback to the teacher about what they have learned about themselves.

Benefits of Punctuated Lectures

Punctuated lectures give on-the-spot feedback to both students and teachers. On introspection, students can consider whether they are processing information properly, and identify factors that support their understanding. They can also benefit from the strategy in the following ways:

  • Improved listening skills.
  • Increased attentiveness during lectures.
  • Awareness of classroom behaviors.
  • Increased responsibility for learning.

Teachers can identify factors that distract students from the lecture and can make changes accordingly.

Conducting a Punctuated Lecture

The following points are to be considered when conducting a punctuated lecture:

  • Introducing the strategy: Introduce the strategy, the lecture’s purpose, the process, and any benefits to the students.
  • Lecture: Conduct punctuated lectures when new material is being introduced. Decide on the points at which the lecture can be punctuated (10 or 20 minute segments.) Also plan the amount of time to allot (1-2 minutes each) for the Reflection and Writing phases of the strategy.
  • Reflection: Students might require some assistance to recall their behaviors during the first few trials of the strategy. Teachers can help by asking questions like:
    • Were you fully involved in following the lecture until now? If not, what were some of the actions or behaviors that you were engaged in?”
    • “What behaviors or thoughts could have hindered you from effectively taking notes during the lecture?”
    • “What do you think was preventing you from following the lecture?”

Students can use these prompts to reflect on their behaviors, actions and thoughts during the lecture.

  • Writing: Instruct students to maintain a folder in which they can write down their reflections. On another page, ask them to write down how they will use this information to correct or improve their learning processes. They can be encouraged to create “learning plans” which identify distracting behaviors, and discuss plans for improving or modifying these behaviors.
  • Feedback: Encourage students to write a feedback about how the strategy has impacted them. After engaging in more punctuated lectures, teachers can analyze the notes to check for changes or improvements as observed or recorded by students.
  • Roadblocks: Engaging in this strategy can be frustrating initially for students, as they may find it difficult to recall the behaviors or understand the connection to their learning processes. Similarly, students need to be honest in their reflections. Remind them that the process is only a self-improvement tool, and that students will not be judged or reprimanded for their reflections.

Through this process, punctuated lectures help to create more responsible students with enhanced listening and self-monitoring skills.

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