Small changes in teaching: the last 5 minutes of class

In a series of articles in The Chronicle from his book “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons From the Science of Learning“, James M. Lang presents simple and practical ideas ideally suited to try out in lectures. In the fourth article, quick suggestions for making better use of the final minutes of lectures:

  1. The minute paper: ask students to write down their thoughts on two questions:
    • What was the most important thing you learned in today’s lecture?
    • What are you still unsure about?

    If these answers are entered on the class discussion forum or via a response device, the students answers can be displayed anonymously in the class for discussion.

  2. Closing connections: offer students the opportunity to finish the lecture early after they have made a list of 5 ways in which the lecture material relates to contexts outside the lecture theatre.
  3. The metacognitive five: after a mid-semester test or quiz, ask students to spend two minutes writing down how they studied. As with (1), this information could also be collected electronically. Before the final exam, make a slide with two columns, showing the approaches used by high and low achieving students and spend 5 minutes talking about study strategies.
  4. Close the loop: repeat an activity used in the first 5 minutes of class and discuss how the lecture material has moved their understanding forward.
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