In this last post of March’s theme on “Student voice on feedback”, Jessica O’Loughlin, first year undergraduate student in biology, shares her experience using ‘Quectures’ as an interactive method for encouraging student participation in lectures…
As a new first year student, I had the chance to experience ‘interactive lectures’, organised by Prof. Nick Colegrave. There was the opportunity during these lectures to put forward feedback in the form of questions that we had on the topics discussed (or ‘Quectures’). In this blog post, I will discuss the impact that quectures had on my experience with interactive lectures.
Interactive (or flipped) lectures are an alternative lecture structure. In a traditional lecture, students will normally learn course material during the lectures and then consolidate the information afterwards. In our interactive lectures, we were given preparatory material (usually split into learning outcome topics) to review before the lecture, and then had to complete a short online quiz. The quiz allowed the students and the lecturer to see topics that the students found challenging. During the lecture, students answered problem-based questions using Top Hat. Whilst we were answering them, we were encouraged to discuss answers with other students sitting around us.
After each topic, students had the opportunity to pose a question that would aim to further our understanding of the lecture content. These were based of the ‘Quecture’ question model by Prof. Heather McQueen (McQueen and McMillan 2018). These types of question are designed to allow students to consider and develop the knowledge that they have gained, and to improve the quality and personalisation of the lecture learning experience. In our lectures, our questions would be reviewed by the lecturer and then answered in the first 10 minutes of the next lecture.
One immediate benefit I noticed with these lectures was that all students in the lecture theatre had an equal opportunity to ask questions. As someone who sits at the back, sometimes it can feel awkward coming down to the front to ask the lecturer a question at the end of a class. By using Top Hat anonymously, everyone in the room was able to put forward their feedback from their own devices, and have the lecturer look at them all together. As a student, I felt more committed to the lecture and acknowledged by the lecturer.
The live feedback really made the interactive lectures live up to their name. The lecturer was able to read the feedback questions as they came in and give some responses there and then. It was also good being able to see that a lot of the issues that I had, other students had too. It even became quite enjoyable to discuss them with friends and other students sitting around me. Seeing people’s different interpretations of the questions also helped me to look at future questions from different perspectives, which would often help me to get the correct answer. This aspect of the feedback made me feel more comfortable with asking about concepts I found difficult in the lectures.
It was great to see how teaching could be tailored to each class. The feedback we gave did have an impact on how the lecturer delivered the information. I noticed this in different ways; from making minor changes to graphs used in the questions to making them easier to read, from quecture responses, to purposefully linking back to previously challenging topics in further lectures. This helped me to connect the different concepts together and made it easier to understand the more difficult ones.
More efficient learning experience
The response to the feedback from the lecturer helped me to understand the material from the very beginning. In particular, it prevented me from learning incorrect logic or interpretations, from my own initial preparation. As a first year student, I was still experimenting with note-taking techniques during lectures. Occasionally, this led to inconsistent notes that I would read later and misinterpret, and would then need to ‘unlearn’ and fix before the exam. Having the interactive lectures meant I was able to ‘nip in the bud’ misconceptions. The feedback methods provided a variety of inputs to get extra information about any gaps in my understanding. It was a lot easier to get a direct answer to my questions, which was especially helpful when trying go through my course for revision later on in the semester.
Overall, my experience with interactive lectures has been a great way to use feedback in an active (and fun) process to respond to students’ questions and adapt to the needs of the class. Whilst I do still believe that there is still a place for traditional lectures, there are definitely more ways interactive lectures can be incorporated into different lectures and courses across the University.
McQueen, H. A. and C. McMillan (2018). Quectures: Personalised constructive learning in lectures. Active Learning in Higher Education.
Read about another student’s experience of working with quectures in this previous Teaching Matters blog post: From students to scientists: The impact of interactive engagement in lectures