Lecture Structuring/alx

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Lecture Structuring
Contributors Christian Köppe, Joost Schalken-Pinkster
Last modification May 16, 2017
Source Köppe and Schalken-Pinkster (2015)[1]; Köppe et al. (2016)[2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain
Lecture Structuring-alx.png

You made the Suitable Content Selection (Suitable Content Selection) and now are looking for ways how to effectively include the content in the lecture to allow the students to comprehend the material.


Students do not learn much in a lecture if all the content is completely presented, but in isolated and unordered pieces.

Learning Styles. Different students have different learning styles. Just presenting the content without taking these differences into account is likely to fail.

Completeness Compulsion. Teachers tend to feel the urge of completing everything they consider important into the available time, even though the time is too short.

Content Dependencies. Some content is dependent on other content.


Therefore: Structure the content of a lecture so that it optimally supports students’ learning and that all dependencies of content parts are taken into account. Respect different learning styles explicitly and balanced by consciously using and mixing a variety of delivery forms. Focus especially on the beginning and the end of the lecture.

The lecture structure should help students to see the relation between the points made and to relate the new information to existing knowledge. Some parts of the lecture content are especially suitable for the beginning of a lecture, e.g. reactivating existing knowledge, providing feedback on some exercises, or giving an overview of the lecture. Other parts are better included at the end of a lecture, e.g. a summary of the content or a presentation of assignments where the content of the lecture has to be used.

This pattern is a more concrete variation of Seminar Plan (Seminar Plan)[3]. If you have a plan, then you should also consider to Reference the Plan (Reference the Plan)[3]during the lecture. Sometimes some unexpected events might occur — students asking very specific or interesting questions —, then you should consider to Let the Plan Go (Let the Plan Go)[3] if that is better for students’ learning.

Probably the most important thing regarding lecture structuring is the splitting of the lecture content into Digestible Packets (Digestible Packets)[4]. The goal of this splitting is to increase the learning effect of a lecture and to ensure an appropriate handling of attention loss.

The structure of the lecture in the middle should include enough variety of delivery forms and also be set up in smaller units. This will help to overcome the otherwise unavoidable attention loss. If there are dependencies in the parts of the content — for example if patterns like Abstraction Gravity-From High to Low (Abstraction Gravity-From High to Low)[4], General Concepts First (General Concepts First)[3], Spiral (Spiral) [4], or Separate Similar Content (Separate Similar Content)[3] are applied — then make sure that the structure reflects these dependencies.

Some delivery forms require time which is difficult to estimate, e.g. when using Carefully Crafted Questions (Carefully Crafted Questions)[5] or Student Driven Lecture (Student Driven Lecture)[4]. It can happen that these take much longer than expected, so there should be some Buffers (Buffers)[3] included in the lecture structure in order to being able to handle such situations. If there are long lectures then you might consider to include one or more Breaks (Breaks)[3].

A good beginning of a lecture is to Set the Stage (Set the Stage)[4]. This also fulfills the educational function of providing an overview for the students. Other pattern for beginning lectures are described in Köppe and Portier (2014).[6]

If you use a Manuscript (Manuscript)[3]or a textbook, then make sure that is easy to follow for the students where the additional content can be found. Provide pointers to book chapters or manuscript sections. It also could help to harmonize your Lecture Structuring (Lecture Structuring) so that it follows the book or Manuscript (Manuscript).

For the lecture on database performance improvement the suitable content and the suitable delivery forms already were selected. The content also contained some existing knowledge to be reactivated, so we put this at the beginning of the lecture. We hereby used an analogy (a record collection) and different delivery forms (photo’s, whiteboard, slides). This knowledge reactivation was followed by a presentation of new material. After that we used another photo and a couple of questions for actively involving the students in the lecture. We then again discussed some new concepts, making hereby use of the answers the students gave earlier, and demonstrated these concepts directly using a tool. At the end a summary was given of all discussed topics.

In this structure we explicitly decided on a start (reactivating knowledge), a mix of old and new topics, a change of media and delivery forms in order to keep the attention of the students, and a summary at the end.


  1. Köppe, C., & Schalken-Pinkster, J. (2015). Lecture design patterns: laying the foundation. In Proceedings of the 18th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Program (EuroPLoP 2013) (p. 4). New York:ACM.
  2. Patlet also published in Köppe, C., Niels, R., Bakker, R., & Hoppenbreuwers, S. (2016). Flipped Classroom Patterns-Controlling the Pace. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016). New York:ACM.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Fricke, A., & Völter, M. (2000). SEMINARS: A Pedagogical Pattern Language about teaching seminars effectively. In Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2000) (pp. 87-128). New York:ACM.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Bergin, J., Eckstein, J., Völter, M., Sipos, M., Wallingford, E., Marquardt, K., Chandler, J., Sharp, H., and Manns, M.L. (2012). Pedagogical patterns: advice for educators. Joseph Bergin Software Tools.
  5. Larson, K. A., Trees, F. P., & Weaver, D. S. (2008). Continuous feedback pedagogical patterns. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2008) (p. 12). New York:ACM.
  6. Köppe, C. & Portier, M. (2014). Lecture Design Patterns: Beginning Lectures. In Preprints of the 19th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2014).