When a family gathers around the table to share a meal, the one who prepared and served the fare most likely spent time pondering the recipes, considering the meal’s consumers, and selecting the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. As in the kitchen, so it is in the classroom. Faculty also ponder content, consider the lesson’s recipients, and select the right balance of lecture, group processing, and independent demonstration of competence. We decide upon our objectives for the lesson and we build our processes around the objectives, seeking to ensure that we reach everyone in our classrooms, online or face to face.
Cue-Do-Review, a teaching sequence that can be used in any lesson, regardless of content level, is one way to help ensure classroom instruction time is used effectively and efficiently. By purposefully targeting specific instructor behaviors at the beginning, middle, and end of a lesson, students are more likely to connect with and remember content.
Quality instruction begins with an opening that engages the learners in the lesson’s purpose and processes, and also helps the learner make connections. A critical element in the beginning of a lesson is linking new information to prior knowledge. The opening minutes of class offer a rich opportunity to capture students’ attention and get them prepared to learn. Students have complex lives, and it is incumbent on instructors to begin class with deliberate efforts to bring their focus to the lesson of the day.
Cueing is like an appetizer, whetting the learner’s appetite for what is to come. During this phase, faculty inform students what will be taught, identify the process by which instruction will be carried out, give an explanation regarding how the process will help students learn, and identify their expectations for students. Typically, instructors ask students to attend to and participate in a learning activity. Cueing can take as little as a few minutes and serves to focus candidate attention on what will transpire as the lesson unfolds.
In the “Do” phase, instructors lead the learning activities while eliciting responses from students regarding their understanding of content and concepts presented. The “Do” phase shapes candidate responses by asking higher order questions and helps students evaluate the accuracy of the information they are learning. This phase is typically the main course of the lesson. Although most instructional time is spent here, the likelihood that information will be assimilated and applied effectively is largely dependent on the degree to which the lesson was initiated with a “cue” that focused on rationale, processes, and expectations.
Finally, in the “Review” phase, the instructor checks students’ understanding of the processes used to teach, reinforces learning, and asks students how the process guided their learning. In essence, both critical content from the lesson and processes used in teaching are discussed and reviewed. Thus, the lesson ends with a brief review phase bringing the meal to a close, much like a dessert.
During the last few minutes of class, many instructors use the time to cram in additional information, make added points, or issue reminders as students are packing up and ready to go. Not only are these last-minute admonishments and bits of information largely ignored, but faculty miss opportunities to collect rich learner feedback when they neglect a purposeful class closure. This cramming on an already full stomach frequently leaves the learner with a bad taste.
By purposefully spending time cueing, doing, and reviewing, instructors are enhancing both the beginning, middle, and end of a well-developed lesson. When this is done, all learners are given the ingredients they need and the optimal conditions to leave the instructional table well-satisfied.
Patty Kohler-Evans is the director of the Mashburn Center for Learning at the University of Central Arkansas. Chayla Rutledge is a graduate assistant at the University of Central Arkansas.