When students become lecturers

This article will show an example of how students can become lecturers by making their clips of knowledge as a course work.

Woman with a camera taking a photograph of a flower

Course: REG 20306 Climate Change Ecology

Period: Period 5

Short Introduction and background

Introduction and story behind the emergence of this learning activity. What was the need, what issue/problem was the teacher facing and wanted to resolve? 

When redesigning a course, the coordinator(s) and the rest of the teaching team can make changes that maximally utilize the expertise and abilities of the entire classlectures and students included. REG20306 was redesigned and renamed around 2017. One of the main goals of redesigning this course was to make it more “student-centred.”

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The lecturers chose a textbook that was suitable for the course and the level of the students (second year BSc). Using that textbook as the foundation, the teaching team facilitates the creation and communication of original course content by the students. Specifically, student groups prepare and deliver a short lecture based on a chapter from the textbook, and pairs of students write a knowledge clip script on a course-related topic of their choice and then share their creation with the rest of the class.

Relevant tools / apps (software) or hardware used

Learning outcome(s)

What has been learned after this lesson/activity has been executed ?

  • Identify direct and indirect effects of climate change on ecological systems;
  • Apply ecological theories to critically evaluate the impacts of climate change on the conservation and management of resources;
  • Communicate scientific findings in written and oral presentations
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These learning outcomes are assessed in a summative way. Both the lecture and the knowledge clip are graded by means of a rubric and accounted for 15% of the final grade. The lecture preparation requires that students deeply study one of the topics, which is also assessed on the final exam.

Lesson idea / Learning activity

Specific description and demonstration of the lesson idea/learning activity.

This showcase is about two different learning activities that share requiring students to become teachers. In groups, students prepare lectures based on one of the chapters of the handbook. Each group makes a lecture of 35 minutes (plus 10 minutes of questions). Groups deliver their lectures to their peers. As a pair, the students create a knowledge clip script (for a video of 5 minutes) on any course-related topic of their choice.

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For both these activities, students are provided with a wide range of resources. The lecture groups interact closely with lecturers and teaching assistants, who help the groups with their preparations. Here, the emphasis is not only on scientific content but also on relevant skills, such as how to choose a lecture focus or angle, select and compose the information, and communicate the message. Through this guidance and with the book as the content foundation, the quality of the lectures and the knowledge clips is assured. Thus, with these learning activities, students are stimulated to master the subject of the course and improve their communication skills.

Both activities (lecture and knowledge clip) are possible to organize with online or in-person teaching. In the first years after re-designing the course, the knowledge clip activity was also completed in larger groups (5-8 students). When education went online with the start of the pandemic (i.e., period 5 in 2020), the knowledge clip groups were reduced to pairs, to facilitate collaboration. Both activities are also possible in a larger course (REG20303 in 2020-2021 has ca. 130 students) if the teaching team is robust enough to offer sufficient support, which at moments can be quite demanding. Due to a limited number of relevant book chapters, a trial is being conducted in which two different student groups will prepare and deliver a lecture on the same topic. The hope is that the duplicated lectures will not be a pitfall but instead will demonstrate to the students that similar topics can be approached in different ways and with a different focus. Another benefit is that a bit of repetition will serve to reinforce the most important points.

Lessons learned / Tips

Mentions tips lecturer has for colleagues based on their experience.

  • Having the students lecture instead of you, does not save time. The teaching team must offer significant support to get good end results. This approach to teaching takes time and requires different skills than just direct delivery of content by a lecturer.
  • For groupwork that takes place online, opportunities for students to work in smaller groups (or even pairs) can make collaborating easier.
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  • For creating the knowledge clip, do not focus on the video editing tools or video quality (but many of our “digital native” students will surprise you with their “hidden talents”!). Focus on the content both in the description of the assignment and in the assessment. Here, for example, focus on the knowledge clip script rather than the clip itself.
  • Be sure to provide instructions that are clear and detailed. Such instructions can help keep the quality consistent and avoid any surprises for teacher or students. Make sure that the expectations are clear to the students (Is the script being grade and the video clip “just for fun” and for sharing with classmates? Or are both being graded?)
  • In the online version, pre-scheduled moments of interaction (e.g., feedback on draft lectures from teachers to student groups) become very important. In the previous year with in-person teaching, members of the teaching team would simply circulate around the classroom and help groups on an as-needed basis.


Teacher(s): Kevin Matson, Milena Holmgren, Jente Ottenburghs and Janneke Troost
TLC contact (on MS Teams): Han Smolenaars
Author (interviewer): Karly van Gorp


  • An example of student activity #1 (The Ocean Conveyor Belt. Video script by the students Linda Meijering and Lisa Dijkgraaf. Video and Music by Frank Meijering.): (video below)
  • An example of student activity #2 (Spring Phenology and Species Trophic Mismatch. Video script by the student Zena Martin): (video below)
  • An example of student activity #2 (Permafrost and Climate Change. Video script by the student Tessa Lampis): (video below)


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