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When Lecture is Necessary

This module discusses the use of multiple means of representation within the confines of a PowerPoint lecture by highlighting patterns in information, encouraging information chunking, and enhancing understanding through pictorial depiction. 

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This resource was originally developed with resources from the College STAR grant. That grant has ended and the College STAR modules will now permanently reside at the East Carolina University Office for Faculty Excellence.

Module Introduction

Dr. Christine Leist, MT-BC is a professor of Music Therapy in the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University. When asked about her teaching style, she began with a disclaimer: “I think most people teach how they were taught. I think it’s funny sometimes when you’re teaching in higher education with no training in how to teach. So when I went into teaching, I taught the way I was taught, which was lecture based.” Her experiences in the first two years of teaching made it clear to her how many different types of students exist; she “learned that everybody was different. You know that’s true, that everybody learns differently, but it was really brought home to me.” In the course of two semesters, she had radically redesigned her lectures into experientials based on students’ requests

Her classroom experiences led her to the concepts of Universal Design for Learning. “People started talking about UDL. I’m like, ‘UDL? What is UDL?’ And reading more about it, it makes so much sense. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, but it makes so much sense.” UDL radically changes the higher education relationship between sagacious professor and passive learner, often supporting alternative learning experiences to lectures. However, some information in the college classroom is most efficiently represented through lecture with PowerPoint presentations; the challenge is how to make them effective.

Backed by her studies and experience in Special Education and UDL, Dr. Leist actively transforms her PowerPoints to represent the curriculum when lecture is necessary. Her organized content and color coding aid in students’ activation of prior knowledge and highlight patterns and relationships. She imbeds images and graphs as alternative representation of grouped information, and links out to additional resources aimed at making the PowerPoint an interactive document for students to engage with in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Leist’s PowerPoint design integrates essential UDL guidelines that truly exemplify multiple means of representation in the classroom when lecture is necessary.

Support for this Module

Original development of this module was made possible by the College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention) initiative.  College STAR was a grant-funded project focused on partnering postsecondary educational professionals and students to learn ways for helping postsecondary campuses become more welcoming of students with learning and attention differences. Much of this work was made possible by generous funding from the Oak Foundation.

Christine Leist


College STAR

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Interactive module

WCAG v2.0 A

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Posted date:

November 10, 2022

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