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Punctuated Lectures

According to Bransford, et al, in How People Learn, we can help students learn to take control of their own learning by taking a metacognitive approach to instruction. We do this by getting students to think (verbalize and write) about how they learn. One way to do this is through a technique described by Cross and Angelo entitled "Punctuated Lectures: Listen, Stop, Reflect, Write and Give Feedback." This involves periodically stopping during a lecture and having students reflect on what they were doing by answering one or more of the following questions:

  • How fully were you concentrating on the lecture during the past few minutes? If you got distracted, how did you get your attention back?
  • What were you doing to make connections between new information and information you already know?
  • What do you expect to come next in the lecture and why?
  • You can conclude this activity (the feedback portion) by having them share their responses with a classmate, asking for volunteers to share what they have written, and/or having them turn these in at the end of class. You might start the next class session by sharing some of the trends in their responses.


Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook For College Teachers. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey, 1993. Print.

Past Teaching Tips, "Metacognition (Getting Students to Think about Their Thinking): Punctuated Lectures And Other Strategies." University of Nevada, Excellence in Teaching Program. 15 November 2006.

Bransford, J., Donovan, M., Pellegrino, J. How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. Washington, DC. National Academy Press, 1999.

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