In "The Eight-Minute Lecture Keeps Students Engaged," a brief but informative article on Faculty Focus, Illysa Izenberg, a lecturer for the Center for Leadership Education in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, discusses her use of this data-driven pedagogy. According to Izenberg, there have been a number of studies supporting what we all fear: namely, that our students don't remember those brilliant oratories we deliver with passion and zeal. More useful, though, is the data suggesting that students will remember information presented in eight- to ten-minute chunks.
Such data is useful not just for the traditional classroom, but also for faculty members considering inverted or flipped teaching. Whether delivering lecture content in the class (the traditional model) or outside of it (the flipped model), faculty should contain their presentations within that eight- to ten-minute frame. Whether sitting in an uncomfortable plastic desk or running on a treadmill or vacuuming the carpet, the student is going to remember what you say after that ten-minute mark.
This idea of the eight-minute lecture can also be useful to the faculty member interested in, but also concerned about, inverted teaching. The common advice for anyone interested in this recent trend, which you can hear from Aaron Sams, one of the coiners of the term "flipped classroom," in our most recent podcast, is to start small. The eight-minute lecture might be one way to start small. Try it out in with one class session, following Izenberg's advice. If it works, try it with another session, but this time, record the eight-minute lecture ahead of time and put it online for the students to watch before coming to class.
As with any pedagogical shift, talk to your students about it ahead of time. Izenberg points out that part of the success she finds with her eight-minute lectures is that her students know what's coming -- they know they are about to receive just enough content for them to remember. Let your students know what you are doing and why you are doing it, and make sure they understand what you expect them to do in response.