Instructor Insights

Crafting Lectures That Inspire and Inform

In This Section

Prof. Gabrieli discusses how he uses lectures to inspire students to engage with the material and master the details.

Balancing Information and Inspiration

The goal of this course is not only to impart content, but also to get students excited about learning new information. One big trade-off is between how much information I present and how much I try to inspire people. In putting together a lecture, I think about communicating essential, as well as provocative, points. 

Educators have identified engagement as a terribly important part of effective education. If you have people engaged, education is working. The thing about teaching is that it can be trial by fire. You sense pretty quickly in the classroom whether or not you have a group engaged. In my own teaching, it’s been helpful for me to consider how I pace the lectures, the mix of slides and video I include, when I should stop and give a small example, and when I should talk about concepts at a more general level of detail. 

Motivating Further Learning

"You can’t provide all the details in a single lecture on any topic, but you can get people to be very motivated to learn more and to be excited about a certain topic."
— Prof. Gabrieli

My advice to somebody teaching Introduction to Psychology is to be engaging and inspirational so that people want to learn more on their own. You can’t provide all the details in a single lecture on any topic, but you can get people to be very motivated to learn more and to be excited about a certain topic.

That’s really one of the goals of each lecture: to provoke students to want to look up more information about a certain topic.

In the end, if a student wants a lot of information, they have to go to a resource such as a textbook to get the details exactly right. Lectures are meant, in part, to inspire students to have the energy to go through the textbook with curiosity and enthusiasm – to have them so engaged in the course that they want to read material that takes them further in-depth. I leave the heavy lifting to students; they need to read the literature and learn the details that have to be learned if they are going to do research in a particular area.

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