Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

My students don’t come to lecture.

Students are bored because they are not actively engaged in the lecture, which requires fifty minutes of focused attention.


Refocus their attention.

The typical attention span for most students is between ten and twenty minutes. This argues for planning your lecture in chunks of fifteen to twenty minutes, using varied activities to re-engage students’ attention, e.g., pose a question, use visuals, conduct a demonstration, break into groups, show a portion of a video, use the classroom response system.

Pique students’ interest.

Begin the lecture by posing a challenging question or providing an intriguing anecdote, etc., that will pique students’ interest and motivate their attention for the next fifty minutes.

Convey your enthusiasm.

Don’t underestimate the impact of your own enthusiasm and excitement for the subject. Demonstrate your passion, for example, by sharing stories from your own experience, because in this venue people’s voice and body language naturally convey their excitement for their discipline.

This site supplements our 1-on-1 teaching consultations.
CONTACT US to talk with an Eberly colleague in person!