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Entering the Performance Zone: a Practical Pre-Lecture Guide for New Faculty

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade I

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.542.1 - 23.542.12



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Paper Authors

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Tomas Enrique Estrada Elizabethtown College

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Entering the Performance Zone: a Practical Pre-Lecture Guide for New and Experienced FacultyAbstractWhile, in recent decades, undergraduate engineering curricula have been strengthened throughan increased emphasis on projects and hands-on learning, the need to provide students witheffective lectures remains a key component of our role as engineering faculty. 1,2 Effectivelecturing has been shown to be essential to student learning and is a central part of studentevaluations of faculty. 3 There exists a robust body of work on the practice of lecturing, both interms of delivery of the lecture itself as well as lecture preparation. 4,5 However, even when wefollow the advice and practice outlined by the literature, our lectures may still fall flat, often forreasons unknown to the instructor. In this paper, we build upon the ideas presented in theexisting literature by highlighting an often neglected stage conducive to high-energy, effectivelectures: the pre-lecture.The pre-lecture stage consists of what we do in the time interval just before a lecture. Theimportance of a healthy pre-lecture stage becomes clear when we first recognize that lecturing is,at its core, a form of public performance. We speak in front of an audience, attempt to connectwith them, and hope that our message has a lasting impact. In other performance venues, such astheater or athletics, the performer often follows specific techniques and routines to effectively be“in the zone” for a performance. 6,7 As instructors, we can exploit this same concept. In thispaper we outline several practical techniques that are conducive to mastering the pre-lecturestage, that is, entering the Performance Zone.Among the pre-lecture techniques we discuss are the following: pre-lecture stress management(particularly stress due to other aspects of the faculty role), the ideal timing of preparation ofslides and lectures notes, and the identification and use of lecturing role models towards mentalpreparation for the Performance Zone. We also explore, in the context of the pre-lecture, thevalue and timing of socialization, nutrition, physical movement, and helpful meditation andbreathing techniques. We finish by including one brief post-lecture technique that serves asreinforcement of the above.While this article might be particularly useful to new faculty, we hope that experienced facultywill also find some of the specific techniques to be applicable and beneficial to their own dailywork. We are confident that by identifying and putting these techniques into action, faculty willmake significant progress towards improving their own lectures, communicating their materialmore effectively, and, ultimately, improving their students’ learning.References1. Bligh, D. What’s the Use in Lecturing?, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass (1998).2. Hodgson, V. “Learning from Lectures”, The Experience of Learning, Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press (1984).3. Filene, P. The Joy of Teaching. Chapel Hill, NC, The University of North Carolina Press (2005).4. Ruhl, K. et al. Using the Pause Procedure to Enhance Lecture Recall, Teacher Education and Special Education,10, (1987).5. McKeachie, W. Improving Lecturing by Understanding Students’ Information Processing, New Directions forTeaching and Learning, 2, (1980).6. Krane, V. A practical application of the anxiety-athletic performance relationship: The zone of optimalfunctioning hypothesis. The Sport Psychologist, Vol 7(2), 113-126 (1993).7. Prassavesis, H. The POMS and Sports Performance: A Review. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2008).

Estrada, T. E. (2013, June), Entering the Performance Zone: a Practical Pre-Lecture Guide for New Faculty Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19556

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