Student Interactive Session (SIS): Structuring & Managing

Students often lose interest during 20 minutes in lecture-style didactic teaching. One has to understand telling is not teaching and listening is not learning. Teachers need to be observant keeping an open mind as regards how best the students get themselves excited to learn. It is not necessary that a traditional lecture session is more interesting for the students than the informal classroom. Interactive teaching styles are therefore developed. It needs to be made simple in principle and understanding that one-hour teaching makes students refractive unless they are involved in the partnership of the classroom. Interactive teaching will thus be beneficial the teacher in involving the students with the following attributes.

  • Students’ direct involvement to make their Activities more Measurable

  • Flexibility in teaching with two-way communications.

  • Interactive instruction to enhance the learning process.

  • Student motivation

  • Making teaching interesting, exciting and a fun too.

The simplest way to convert a didactic lecture to a Student Interactive Session (SIS) is to :

  • Use questions that stimulate response,

  • Provoke discussion

  • Give a live hands-on experience.

  • Use teaching aids in such a way that asks for question-answers

  • Create workgroup within lecture with time management.

Methods of Student Interactive Session (SIS):

There are many ways to structure a Student Interactive Session (SIS). This includes providing clear instructions, definite time management, monitoring & responding the students and mentoring all activities. A number of interactive techniques are available today and still many can be innovated. This is a specific method in andragogy, where occasional or several activities can be included to a regular lecture. Some think that use of powerpoint in every class is different than a didactic lecture.

Powerpoint is a tool and not an activity; hence the use of PowerPoint cannot make a session different than a didactic lecture. An interactive method such as “think-pair-share” sometimes is very useful. In Think-Pair-Share activities, the teacher has to ask a question; such as “give the positive aspect of a disaster”; to students. Instruction has to be given that they must consider alone and then with a neighbor to give a final answer. This is to promote higher-level thinking in the student. At this point, the teacher must use time management methods. This method can be used for small Groups also, but the number of students should be less than 30. In other words, this is a good method for tutorial classes. After such a tutorial session of “sharing”, it can be followed up with a larger classroom teaching. For time management one can use short “quick-response think-pair-share” or “extended think-pair-share”, the latter is for long duration time. It is easy to incorporate more than one think-pair-share activity in a given class period. The students’ responses can be utilized as components of the teaching session or be discarded. The teacher should see that the discarding process does not offend the student who suggested the component.

Similarly, “ConcepTests, can be used several times in one class. ConcepTests are conceptual multiple-choice questions that focus on one key concept of the teachers’ learning objectives. ConcepTests represent a rapid method of formative assessment of student and need very little time management techniques. One can use a combination of different activities; for example, using properly constructed Learning objectives and take home messages in between lectures and getting feedbacks on each learning objectives after the discussion is completed or by using a few quick individual ConcepTests. Assessment, to see if the students understand and can apply the lecture material to simple problems or brain-storming issues, itself makes a session a proper SIS.

Some Traditional SIS ways:

      1. Brainstorming– Interactive brainstorming is usually performed in tutorial classes or group sessions. Brainstorming is useful for generating creative thoughts by pulling their ideas together to arrive at the thought output. These include the following types:


  • Structured and unstructured

  • Reverse or negative thinking

  • Nominal group relationships

  • Online interaction such as chat, forums, and email

  • Team-idea mapping

  • Group passing

  • Individual brainstorming

However one has to learn these methods by further detailed reading and practicing than in smaller groups. Text references like teaching methods by JJ Guilbert or Mc Grigor are good resources


2. Buzz session— This is like brainstorming aloud. Students / Participants in the session work in groups that focus on a single topic. Within each group, every person contributes thoughts and ideas. At the end all present their groups’ common view to draw a consensus for all the groups involved..


3. Incident process– This teaching style resembles the combination of a real play and case study method, without much rigidity of a typical case study. The actual emphasis is on learning real problem solving with the solution for real people beyond the classroom. This is also undertaken for small groups of students.


4. Q&A sessions– Prior to formal lecturing some 3×5 index cards are distributed to the student with some question to answer. After 10-2- minutes the cards are collected, shuffled and then the class resumes with actual answers. But care should be taken that the teacher does not humiliate anyone.

Effective Classroom Management:

However the faculty has to structure, effective classroom management skills for ensuring the smooth session management, only then the activities are effective. The teacher has to make the class comfortable and jovial with interactive classroom atmosphere. There is no harm if some jokes or poetry are quoted related to the session. Modulation of the tone, maintaining eye contact with the movement of the head-hand- human makes interactive learning interesting.

The role as classroom manager on an SIS needs interest, interaction, the attention of the teacher. Taking the participation of the students in the class is the keyword of SIS. In the interactive lecture segments, the Teachers can enhance the overall tone in the classroom by making themselves approachable to students, knowing their audience, and helping students feel comfortable in working with each other. This includes laying out of class room, physical space, communication facilities like sound and projection facilities etc. At the end of the class, one can even collect Feed Backs of the students as to how interesting was the class and if they need anything more to add.

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