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Today I have been thinking about lecturing. A couple of years back I was struck by Chekhov's short story “A Boring Story”, (1889) a first person account of an elderly and unwell medical professor, which includes his reflections on lecturing, which he regarded as something of a trial.
This morning I came across A Critique of Poor College Lecturing (1937) in which a psychology professor asked 300 students how he could improve his lecturing. The students came up with over 100 questions the lecturer needed to ask himself. Although somewhat daunting and clearly from a previous age of higher education there is much of value here. (The figures at the beginning of each point indicate the number of students who suggested this question or something like it).
James D. Weinland A Critique of Poor College Lecturing (1937)Journal of Educational Sociology , Vol. 10, No. 5 (Jan., 1937) , pp. 307-315 Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2262152 Not open access 🙁
Regarding Subject matter
10. Do you wander?
5. Do you stick to the subject?
5. Do you talk over the heads of the students?
3. Is your treatment too complicated?
3. Are you always talking of general theories, never specific?
2. Do you lecture too technically?
I. Is your subject matter poor?
I. Do you believe in making your explanations brief ?
I. Do you lecture continually on the same thing?
I. Do you give constructive information or do you tend to confine your criticism to destructive ideas?
I. Do you sometimes fail to speak about the assigned lessons, allowing the class to wonder what it's all about?
I. Do you arouse curiosity about the next lecture?
i. Do you talk more about the subject matter than about yourself?
i. Are you original?
i. Do you understand the subject matter yourself ?
CLARITY AND CONSTRUCTION
I4. Does your lecture have unity and plan?
I4. Is your emphasis on the correct or wrong part of the lecture?
8. Are you clear on the points discussed?
4. Do you connect your topics?
2. Do you make clear the chronological order?
2. Do your statements have clear antecedents?
i. Do you clear up each topic before attacking the next?
I. Are your phrases jumbled, incoherent?
i. Are notes to be taken down announced?
I. Do you repeat conclusions, if any?
I. Do you repeat too often?
I. Are you too slow in making headway in presentation?
i. Is the discussion of important topics too rapid?
I. Can your class keep the pace you set in covering the work?
ATTITUDE OF LECTURER
12. Are you enthusiastic?
I2. Do you show an inferiority complex?
8. Do you have a feeling of superiority, swelled head?
8. Do you show force and vigor?
7. Do you talk hesitatingly, too many pauses?
7. Are you overearnest and overemphatic, too serious?
5. Do you speak with notes, as though reading?
4. Do you speak in a formal manner?
3. Do you speak directly to the class?
3. Are you friendly?
2. Are you interested in the subject?
2. Do you speak to the group as a whole or a selected few just in front of you?
2. Do you adapt yourself to your audience?
I. Are you so interested in the subject that you expect everybody else to be?
I. Do you act as though you wish the lecture were over?
I. Do you make yourself one of the class or a mere talking machine?
I. Do you feel at ease and make the class feel at ease?
I. Do you act as though you were very clever and your class very dumb?
I. Do you smile?
I. Is your appearance correct?
I. Is your bearing sloppy?
I. Do you have some dignity?
I. Do you look asleep?
I. Are you absent-minded?
I. Do you take yourself too seriously?
I. Are you in too much of a hurry?
I. Is your manner indifferent?
VOICE AND EXPRESSION
58. Is your voice monotonous?
28. Do you talk too fast?
23. Do you enunciate clearly?
i6. Is your voice loud enough?
I2. Is your voice too low?
8. Is your voice too loud?
7. Is your voice raspy, harsh?
4. Is your manner stuttering or uncertain?
4. Is the tone of your voice unpleasant?
3. Do you have vivacity of tone?
2. Is your voice shrill?
2. Do you lack articulation?
2. Do you control your voice?
2. Are there too many extremes in the pitch of your voice?
2. Do you fail to open your mouth in attempting to speak?
I. Is your voice weak?
I. Do you show emphasis with your voice?
I. Do you speak too slowly?
I. Do you speak through the side of your mouth or swallow your words?
I. Are your words too drawn out?
I. Do your words run into each other?
I. Do you have an ascending or descending inflection of voice?
I. Do you always emphasize the same part of every sentence?
I. Do you speak with feeling?
I. Do you speak continuously without a break?
I. Do you "hem" and "haw"?
VOCABULARY AND VARIETY
7. Is your pronunciation correct?
7. Do you use big words?
7. Do you slur difficult words?
5. Do you have a large vocabulary, variety, and can you find the right word?
2. Do you say "ah" and "ugh"?
I. Do you use flowery, literary language?
I. Do you repeat pet phrases?
I. Are your sentences too long?
I. Do you use many big words?
I. Are you wordy?
I. Does your vocabulary distract the listener from the subject?
I. Do you have relevancy in word power to situation or mood?
I. Are your lectures always started in the same humdrum manner,
such as: "The lecture today will be on
I. Are your lectures memorized or the result of a thorough knowledge of the subject?
23. Do you use good illustrations-in place?
4. Do you use new examples or stick close to the book?
3. Do you make statements of fact without illustration?
2. Are your lectures stereotyped and monotonous or do they offer an interesting story ?
I. Are your examples clearly given; i.e., their connection to the principle explained?
I. Can you write legibly on the blackboard?
I. Do you rehash the book?
I. Do you use blackboard illustrations?
I. Are your blackboard illustrations clear?
I. Do you keep illustrations up-to-date?
I. Do you bring in curious information and the odd?
I. Do your statements leave doubt or questions in the minds of your audience?
I. Do you ever relate any personal, outside experiences of your own?
II. Is your body position correct, head erect, do you speak out, use gestures?
6. Are you nervous or shy?
6. Do you fiddle with objects, twirl your watch chain around your finger?
3. Do you move around during the lecture and thus keep the student's
eye occupied? (Best to move around)
2. Are your actions such that interest follows them instead of the lecture ?
I. Do you look out of the window for inspiration while lecturing?
I. Do you stand in one corner of the room?
I. Do you have disconcerting habits of walking about?
I. Do you walk up and down and so disturb the attention of the class?
I. Does your constant playing with chalk distract attention?
I. Have you irritating habits, do you look at your watch too often?
I. Do you have a mental handicap?
25. Do you use a little humor?
3. Are your jokes poor?
3. Are your attempts at humor painful?
I. Do you try to be too funny?
4. Can you keep order?
2. Are you irritable at small noises?
I. Do you become impatient and sarcastic?
I. Have you noticed the temperature of the room?
I. Are you extremely stern in disciplining your classes, thus making the students feel like kindergartners?
I. Do you scold too frequently?
I. Do you sound irritable?
I. Are you fairly strict with the class?
I. Do you continually call down students for their lack of cooperation?
I. Do you lean toward favorites?
I. Are you too lenient?
I. Do you give too much "blarney"?
ATTITUDE ON QUESTIONS
5. Do you ever call for discussion?
5. Do you give an opening for questions?
2. Do you question and get reactions from the class?
2. Do you hesitate in answering questions?
2. Do you answer questions immediately or wait until the next class?
I. Do you allow any one person to ask too many questions?
I. Are you frank?
I. Do you try to answer a question when really you do not know the answer yourself ?
I. Do you have an antagonistic attitude toward questions?
I. Do you refuse to explain points unless the whole class so asks?