When it comes to adult-centered instructional design, it's important to bring up Gail Elkin. Her research on retention and attention spans is where we get the 10-2 rule -- ten minutes of instruction followed directly by two minutes or more of an engaged activity that cements what was just covered. Dividing a class up this way has been shown to increase engagement, greatly improve retention, and, yes, if done correctly, it can up the fun rating of the class you are teaching.
Where Does This Come From?
The "10" in Elkin's rule corresponds to the minutes in the average adult attention span. If you talk or present information much beyond that mark, people are shown to start losing the information presented. You may have delivered the best 20-minute lecture of your life but people's attention span won't let them retain over half of that. They may not fidget or appear distracted but their minds have gone elsewhere. It is better to go ten minutes and then cement what has been covered rather than wait to reinforce the material at the very end.
What Activities Can I Do to Cement the Lecture Portion?
Some teachers will give students worksheets to fill out based on what was just said. The idea is that as they recall what was immediately taught and organize it onto the worksheet that the information will be assimilated into a student's existing knowledge and then stored. This works but it can be a bit boring for your students -- particularly adult students.
Adults learn by doing and by immediately applying what they just learned in some way. The worksheet method may work but there are some more creative and fun ways to ensure retention while providing a more enjoyable classroom experience.
Select Engaging Activities
Immediately after your ten minute lecture or skills demonstration, assign an engaged activity to the students to ensure they immediately practice or discuss the material. There are a lot of engaged activities: role plays and labs, wall and table races, four corners, human graphs, etc. Over the course of 2016, I will be steadily adding a list to choose from under the Engaged Learning link in the right navigation bar.
Remember Elkin's 10-2 rule as you design your classes to ensure better engagement, increase retention, and help your students enjoy the classroom experience in a more effective way.
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