Pacing and time allocation at the micro- and meso-level within the class hour: Why pacing is important, how to study it, and what it implies for individual lesson planning

Joshua Goldsmith

Abstract

The topic of pacing at the level of the individual class hour has received relatively little coverage in research literature. In order to provide a research-based take on the issue, the current work surveys the existing literature, develops terminology and draws a key distinction between macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of pacing, sequencing, grading, and transitioning.

 

In order to focus on one of pacing’s constituent sub-topics—the allocation of classroom time—this article presents a case study of a first semester college-level introductory German class at a top-tier American university. The data come from two hours of class, one each from the beginning and end of the semester, in an attempt to discover not only how pacing affects teaching synchronically but also how it might change diachronically. Utterances and gestures were transcribed in order to segment the class into activities and sub-activities, and a model for using verbal and gestural cues to perform this kind of segmentation is proposed. The paper also discusses how the teacher allocates time to different kinds of activities, considering pacing strategies that help keep students focused and “on plan” and how these pacing strategies can allow for more time and activities spent on communicative, pair-based work. It is argued that because of the case study teacher’s focus on pacing and use of various strategies to pace the class, not only researchers but also teachers might be able to generalize the micro- and meso-pacing model described in this study to the pacing of individual lessons in their own classrooms.

Keywords

(micro-, meso-, and macro-) pacing; time allocation; time on-plan; class hour; lesson planning

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