Pause Procedure Active Learning - Active Learning

Last updated on 19/08/2019

  • You must be signed in to access this function

    Remove vote

Pause Procedure


The pause procedure (sometimes called Clarification Pause) is a strategy that uses strategic pauses in a lecture to provide students with time to review their notes, discuss in pairs and clarify, assimilate and retain the lecture material.

How to implement the strategy

In this three-minute video by Damian T. Gordon, describes how and why he uses the pause procedure. Please note that he uses the strategy after 20-30 minutes of teaching rather than 12-15 minutes.  

1. Before the lecture, structure content into chunks. Each chunk will take 12-15 minutes of teaching time. 

2. After teaching each chunk pause in your teaching for 2-3 minutes 

3. During the pause you can ask students to do one of the following: 

  • Summarise notes: Students can use this time to summarise any notes they may have been taking while you were teaching. You can encourage them to list key points or main ideas covered. Students may also want to develop a mind-map of the information they have been listening to during the previous 12-15 minutes. 

  • Pair Discussion: A quick pair discussion to compare notes, seek clarification of key points from each other recalling facts, and fill any knowledge gaps 

  • Framing questions: Ask students to write questions based on the content presented so far.  

When using the pause procedure during an online lecture, you may feel uncomfortable during the pause time, as it can seem like forever! However, it is important to resist shortening the pause time. 

The purpose of the strategy

Students’ attention during lectures can wane significantly after 15 minutes. Therefore, a short break can help to re-orientate attention (Stuart and Rutherford, 1978). The strategy is great for encouraging active listening during the lecture, as students will learn that during the pause, they will be expected to make sense of what has been covered.  

Stuart, J., & Rutherford, R. J. D. (1978). Medical student concentration during lectures. The lancet, 312(8088), 514-516. 

Read More

Bachhel, R., & Thaman, R. G. (2014). Effective use of pause procedure to enhance student engagement and learning. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 8(8), XM01-XM03 doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8260.4691. 

This study examined the effectiveness of the pause procedure in a first-year medical course. The results showed that after 15 days, students who had taken part in a lecture that incorporated a pause procedure did significantly better on a multiple-choice question test than students in the control group who had not taken part in the pause procedure. 

The learning focus of the strategy

  • Collaborative Learning

Class size that is suitable for the strategy

  • 100+ students
  • 20 - 50 students
  • 50+ students
  • < 20 students

Activity group size

  • Individual
  • Pairs

Year level in which the strategy is often used

  • First year
  • Post graduate
  • Second year
  • Third Year+

Discipline area (Academic Group) in which the strategy is often used

  • Arts Education and Law
  • Griffith Business School
  • Griffith Health
  • Griffith Sciences
  • Other Group

Phase of the learning and teaching session in which the strategy will be used

  • Conclusion to the session
  • Introduction to session
  • Main phase of the session

Preparation time for the strategy

  • Less than 10 minutes

Duration of the strategy

  • Less than 10 minutes

Level of learning outcome that the strategy is designed to address

  • Remember
  • Understand

Learning space appropriate for the strategy

  • Lecture theatre
  • Online
  • Seminar room
  • Workshop

Assessment Strategies

  • Formative Assessment

Preferred Citation

Learning Futures (2019). Pause Procedure. Retrieved from


© 2024 Griffith University.