Suitable Delivery Form Selection/alx

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Suitable Delivery Form Selection
Contributors Christian Köppe, Joost Schalken-Pinkster
Last modification June 6, 2017
Source Köppe and Schalken-Pinkster (2015)[1]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain
Suitable Delivery Form Selection-alx.png

You have the Suitable Content Selection (Suitable Content Selection) for your lectures and are now at the moment of deciding the activities you want to use for presenting this content.


Lectures in which the content is presented in a flow of speech of the lecturer are a challenge for the students’ span of attention. It is also of no value if a lot of information is presented in a way that the students find hard to understand or in a way that does not help them grasping the content.

Volatile information. One does not learn by listening only, learning is much more complex and includes many different activities. Putting all content into a lecturer-led oral presentation, independent of the issue or learning goal, is unlikely to lead to durable knowledge acquisition.

Delivery form limitation. Limiting the delivery forms to the usual ones only — slides with text and occasional diagrams— increases the chance that not all students are supported well in their learning according to their learning styles.

One size does not fit all. It is hard to find a set of delivery forms that is ideal for teaching to a group of students with heterogeneous learning styles.


Therefore: Choose delivery forms that explicitly take the content, the students’ learning styles, and the general possibilities of lectures into account. Choose them by matching them with the content to be presented and check if they support the educational goals.

During a lecture, lecturers are not restricted to just orally presenting information. Instead, lectures can be supported by visual displays (slides), photos, videos, music, peer discussions, small exercises, Twitter back-channel discussions, and interactive classroom response systems, amongst others. These alternative delivery forms actively engage students with the content (while at the same time respecting the constraints of the lecture theatre). Insights of Howard Gardner[2] have learned educators that intelligence is not limited to linguistic intelligence, but that intelligence also includes logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, naturalistic, existential, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. By alternating the form of delivery, more students will be able to easily comprehend the content.

Presentation of content does not need to be restricted to the presentation of the bare facts itself. The purpose of education is not only the transfer of facts, but also setting of goals, activating prior knowledge, structuring the content, giving opportunities to practice with the content, motivating students and managing the learning process. Oral presentations are not the most suitable form for each of these educational goals.

Therefore lectures need to identify which of these different purposes of education can successfully be matched to the content and delivery form of your lecture so that all functions are supported. Sometimes this means that parts from the lecture will need to be excluded that were intended to support educational goals which are better supported by activities other than lectures.

Slides that only contain (lots of) text are not the most ideal delivery form. Students should be exposed to a variety of different delivery forms, which might be supported by the different media you can use, like blackboard, smartboard, slides, films, overhead projector etc. This addresses different senses and also partially supports different learning styles (see Different Approaches (Different Approaches)[3]). It is also good to Change Media (Change Media)[4]regularly so that an optimal mix of delivery forms is reached, which also supports to Regular Attention Recuperation (Regular Attention Recuperation). Another criterion might also be that specific delivery forms help to Expand the Known World (Expand the Known World)[3] of the students. However, the first step is to select these delivery forms.

The pattern Work Forms (Work Forms)[4]is intended for seminars and makes a distinction between presentation style and other work forms where the students are actively involved. In a lecture it is much harder — but possible — to actively involve the students in many different ways. However, the presentation style consists of different forms itself and these forms should be identified and used in an alternating way during a lecture. These forms are also part of a Balanced Curriculum (Balanced Curriculum)[5] and should be included in the Seminar Plan (Seminar Plan)[4]. The suitable delivery forms are highly dependent on the possibilities regarding the specific circumstances of the lectures to be given, so one should Check Prerequisites (Check Prerequisites)[4]to make sure that all chosen delivery forms can be used in the lecture.

Few patterns address the issue of engaging students actively in the lecture. Questions asked by the teacher are one such way, as described in Carefully Crafted Questions (Carefully Crafted Questions) and Simple Answer (Simple Answer) [6]. If the group is not too large, then Simulation Games (Simulation Games)[7] or Try It Yourself (Try It Yourself)[3]are a good way. One can also Make It Their Problem (Make It Their Problem)[8].

It is more interesting if something happens at the front of the lecture hall instead of only static text and pictures being shown. Demonstrations of tools might help to make some concepts more concrete when you Show It Running (Show It Running) or Show Programming (Show Programming)[8]. This also can be used to Expose the Process (Expose the Process)[3], which offers the possibility to actively engage students by having them telling you what to do.

The main topic of a lecture was performance improvements of a relational database. The specific content selected for the lecture was the existing knowledge on basic RDBMS and the new topics: how database searches work, how database joins work and how this knowledge can be combined to optimize the performance of database queries. It was chosen to use a record collection as example.

In order to improve the engagement of the students one of the delivery forms selected for the lecture were photo’s of a record collection and piles of records. Right before the beginning of the lecture there was also some music played which the students heard when they entered the room and they saw a picture of a record collection projected on the wall. As part of the content was existing knowledge, it was chosen to reactivate this knowledge by asking questions. As the answers to the questions might be easily overheard and also to make this existing knowledge more explicit and visible to the students, the whiteboard was chosen for collecting the students’ answers. This also to make the relations between the answers visually explicit by grouping elements that belong together and making relations explicit through drawing arrows.

In order to make some of the improvements more concrete to the students, it was also chosen to use a programming demonstration as delivery form. This allowed to make some of the introduced concepts immediately concrete, but also offered interactivity possibilities by providing a way of answering students’ questions regarding some performance issues by demonstrating the effects directly.


  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. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. NY: Basics.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 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.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 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.
  5. Olson, D. (2008). Teaching Patterns: A Pattern Language for Improving the Quality of Instruction in Higher Education Settings. ProQuest.
  6. 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.
  7. Anthony, D. L. (1996). Patterns for classroom education. In Pattern languages of program design 2 (pp. 391-406). Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc..
  8. 8.0 8.1 Schmolitzky, A. (2007). Patterns for Teaching Software in Classroom. In Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2007). New York:ACM.