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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-31

Hitting pause: 65 lecture breaks to refresh and reinforce learning

Lukenda School of Business, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, USA

Date of Submission14-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance19-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication7-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Marta Diaz
Lukenda School of Business, Lake Superior State University, 650 W. Easterday Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ehp.ehp_36_20

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How to cite this article:
Diaz M. Hitting pause: 65 lecture breaks to refresh and reinforce learning. Educ Health Prof 2021;4:30-1

How to cite this URL:
Diaz M. Hitting pause: 65 lecture breaks to refresh and reinforce learning. Educ Health Prof [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 13];4:30-1. Available from: https://www.ehpjournal.com/text.asp?2021/4/1/30/315625

Edition : First

Publishers : Stylus Publishing

ISBN 13 : 978-1-62036-653-0

ISBN 10 : 1620366533

Pages : 266

Price : $32.50

Hitting Pause: 65 Lecture Breaks to Refresh and Reinforce Learning[1] offers a quick and handy resource of 65 pausing techniques, organized into three sections of starting pauses, midpauses, and closing pauses. New and experienced instructors across all disciplines can browse and choose a pause(s) to use in their next class. A summary of each technique provides the name of the technique, goal, description, classroom settings, instructions, online adaption, and key references for more study.

Many of us know that we can do more to improve student learning, but active learning strategies require significant modifications to course design. Hitting Pause presents a simple research-based teaching strategy, offering the benefits of active learning without the need for course redesign. The existing problem is that professors talk continuously from the time class begins until it ends, teaching by the traditional lecture method. Pauses during a lecture promote student learning and retention by giving students time to absorb and think about the information they have just heard. Hitting Pause reviews the research that support the use of strategic pauses, starting pauses and closing pauses, and the positive impact on student learning.

In part one, Hitting Pause discusses the dominance of the traditional lecture and describes how pauses improve student learning in the traditional lecture. As noted in the cited research, traditional lectures are less effective than active learning strategies for student learning and retention but, nonetheless, remain the primary method of conveying information. When lectures contain pauses, students experience active learning benefits, such as increased interest, motivation, and retention. The book provides an example that illustrates how starting and closing pauses can improve student learning in an already highly-rated lecture. In another example, the book demonstrates how starting and closing pauses can encourage attendees to ask questions, participate in discussions, and commit to act.

After discussing how pauses create positive learning experiences, part two reviews the research in support of pauses. When pauses are structured to engage students in peer feedback and instruction, pauses promote learning among students. As noted in the cited research, students learn better in collaborative settings because they feel safe to “share ideas, make mistakes, and ask questions.” In addition, as noted in the cited research, “the best way to learn is to teach” and “the person doing the most talking is doing the most learning.”

A key characteristic of a good pause is creating a positive environment, even if the instructor has to resort to games; however, pauses are most effective when they are purposeful and metacognitive. To this end, the book provides the instructor with sample questions to ask students during pauses. The next characteristic is for the pause to help the student personalize the information to help recall the information. The last characteristic of a good pause is unpredictability. As noted in the cited research, the new and the unfamiliar is more stimulating to the brain's learning process.

After explaining the key characteristics of a good learning pause, the book goes further to explain the advantages of inserting pauses at strategic times during the class session. First, the book dispels myths that lead instructors to start their presentations prematurely. As noted in the cited research, starting pauses focus student attention, create curiosity, build on prior knowledge, create a sense of community, exploit primary (first impressions), and start learning with an experience. Starting pauses prepare students to make connections during the learning experience and, if not present, the learning experience is disjointed.

Instructors typically know when students have lost interest in their lectures. The book reviews the studies that tell us the limits of the human mind support short lectures during the class period which support inserting midpauses before the next topic.

Closing pauses are powerful because they capture learning that occurred during the session and reinforce it. This section of Hitting Pause provides examples of good and poor closing pauses and provides the instructor with sample questions to ask students to review content, celebrate accomplishments, and motivate students to act.

Part three presents actual classroom examples of pauses that achieve the desired goal. Examples are included for starting pauses that provide a theme, introduce the main concepts, create the desire to learn by getting them emotionally involved, and create a safe environment. Examples are included for closing pauses that review and celebrate, wrap-up, application, commit to action, engage and motivate to action, and make connections.

Hitting Pause presents the case for inserting learning pauses into the traditional lecture to improve student learning. Learning pauses offer professors a research-based strategy that improves lectures, gaining active learning benefits for students without redesigning courses. The book identifies the key characteristics of a good pause and reviews the literature that support the use of strategic pauses in the traditional lecture. Hitting Pause illustrates the effectiveness of learning pauses with actual examples and an appendix that organizes and summaries 65 pausing techniques to be used as a handy reference. The book is well written, research based, and for the busy academic, a practical resource that should be on every desk.

Gail Taylor Rice is a Professor in the School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University and has held professorial positions at other universities. She directs faculty development at Loma Linda University and regularly presents at medical education conferences and institutes. She has served on editorial boards for professional journals and societies and published books and articles for peer-reviewed journals.


The author would like to thank Todd Zakrajsek, PhD, who provided general support in the form of guidance.

  References Top

Rice GT. Hitting Pause: 65 Lecture Breaks To Refresh and Reinforce Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 1


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