Center for Teaching and Learning

Guidelines for 90-180-Minute Class Meetings

While faculty will adjust the rhythm of class meetings to suit their students’ needs and the course content, this is one possible sequence for a 90-minute class meeting. Divide the time into 4 parts that engage students in different modes of learning. For a 180-minute class, you might adjust the time estimates offered here, or repeat the plan twice. Several Short breaks, or one longer break, are essential for combating Zoom fatigue.

1. Discussion (20-30 minutes)

  • 10 minutes in breakout groups/Zoom rooms where students address specific tasks/questions and 10-15 minutes of whole-class reporting back is a possible timing plan
  • Students discuss in Zoom breakout rooms and/or in small in-person groups the specific questions or problems that you gave them in advance to think about while they reviewed the readings and materials before the class meeting.
  • Ask each group to prepare ideas or decisions or problems that their reporter will share back with the whole class group. These ideas/decisions will respond to the guiding questions/problems you provided as homework.
  • Small groups of 4 or 5 work well. Give each student a responsible role in the group (timekeeper, facilitator, notetaker, citation finder, reporter to share back the group’s best ideas with the whole class)
  • You can visit each Zoom breakout room, but your appearance can disrupt the group’s conversation. In Zoom, your face appears prominently inside the breakout room, and you can’t hover at the edge of a group to listen like you do in a physical classroom.
  • A simpler way to monitor how students are doing in the small breakout groups is to create a single Google document or Google slide  (like this example) or Zoom whiteboard or LATTE discussion forum, where you invite the notetaker in each group to type the emerging ideas in real time. Use Brandeis password protected Google so that students’ work is not publicly visible on the internet. Notetakers might type the top causes for something or the most important conflicts between perspectives in the readings, or the most useful approaches to a problem, or the most confusing aspects for their group.

Break (5 minutes)

2. Content Delivery (15-20 minutes)

  • Respond to the ideas that students reported back from their small discussion groups.
  • Clarify and correct as needed
  • Build on their observations to link to new ideas and new content
  • Introduce a new concept you want them to think about

Break (5 minutes)

3. Coached Practice to Apply the New Content (20-25 minutes)

  • Engage students in an individual or small group exercise that actively engages them in applying or questioning the new concept you introduced. You’ll be able to coach and guide them as they encounter confusion or raise questions. You can coach students as a whole group or individually address emerging questions in a Zoom breakout room.
  • Allow students time to begin working on an upcoming graded project or assignment. They can pose questions that arise and you can offer help before they leave the class meeting to go work on their own.

Break (5 minutes)

4. Reflection (5-10 minutes)

  • Gather students’ reflections about the most helpful and muddiest or most confusing points. Efficient ways to do this include: a Brandeis password protected Google form, a Brandeis Qualtrics survey, a LATTE quiz or LATTE discussion forum post. This helps students to think about how they are doing and where they need your help. And it gives you some prompt information about how to adjust your teaching to help students learn.