The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

3.1 Work for seminars and tutorials.

Typically, lectures are directly related to seminars or tutorials and it is worth stressing the importance of carefully integrating the two. You will need to address the following questions.

  • How much time do you want students to spend on follow-up private study after the lecture before coming to the seminar? This should be made clear to students, so that they can maximise the benefits from the seminar. It is unwise to assume that students will know what is expected of them.
  • Do you want to refer back to material or activities in previous seminars? If you do, this is likely to give students a greater understanding of how the course is structured.
  • Do the seminar questions directly relate to the material covered in the lecture? Here you will need to decide whether the lecture material needs reinforcing through seminar questions or whether the seminar could be used for follow-up work, such as examining policy implications. For example, a seminar following a lecture on fiscal policy could involve students preparing a Budget based on information provided to them beforehand or examining the details of a particular Budget.
  • If you are going to use various short activities in lectures, including diagram and table manipulation, completing proofs, etc., does this enable you to do more creative things in seminars? For example, you could reduce the amount of 'drilling' in seminars (such as going through numerical exercises) and increase the amount of debate on policy issues (see chapter on seminars).
  • Do you use some of the time in seminars to allow students to ask about points they did not understand in the lectures? Do you actively encourage them to do this? If so, are there any other ways of achieving the same objectives that you might consider using, such as discussion boards to which you reply or student self-support groups (see chapter on VLEs)? These alternatives could release seminar time for other activities and prevent them becoming in part a repeat of the lecture.

It is impossible to give answers to these questions that are appropriate to all circumstances. For example, the most appropriate answer will depend on the nature of the learning objectives and the type of work students are expected to undertake outside of lectures and seminars. However, it is important to stress the need to integrate the lectures and seminars and to use each to complement the other.