Mayo's Clinics

Jun 28, 2022, 20:33
Alternative Ways of Conducting Demonstrations

Alternative Ways of Conducting Demonstrations

31 October 2017

Dr. Fred Mayo illustrates criteria for good demonstrations from student lead to instructor driven.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed the notion of lecturing backward and this month, we will examine the other most prevalent method of teaching our students – demonstrations. It is part of my fall teaching strategies series.

Value of Demonstrations
Demonstrations provide visual and aural clues to students, and most faculty members are good at showing students how to do things, whether discussing culinary, baking, pastry, or dining room subjects. However, sometimes we get so excited about showing what we can do that we lose focus on making sure the students have learned what we want them to absorb.

Criteria for Good Demonstrations
Good demonstrations require careful planning and coordination of ingredients, equipment and location so students can learn from what you show them. Successful faculty members have MEP ingredient lists and equipment for a demonstration. That way, the instructor can undertake the MEP or assign it to a student in order to allow them to do something else in the kitchen, dining room, or laboratory. In fact, it can be a fascinating assignment for a student to assemble the demonstration MEP.

The most important aspects of good demonstrations include:

  • Preparing all the ingredients and equipment ahead of time so there are no interruptions.
  • Ensuing that each student can see the demonstration by arranging the demonstration station, which could include overhead mirrors or employing cameras and projection screens.
  • Pointing out the key demonstration parts including the most important aspect of the skill to perform correctly.
  • Asking students questions about what step to take next during a demonstration.
  • Talking about the demonstration as you perform it so that students realize what they should be watching and remembering.
  • Reviewing key points after the demonstration is complete so you reinforce the message and the critical information.

Strategies for Making Demonstrations More Effective
There are several ways to change the normal pattern of instructing students through demonstrations.

One technique is to have students conduct the demonstration while you talk them through the steps. If they have read the assigned material or watched the assigned video, they should be able – with help – to perform the skill in a public setting. The advantage of this method is the accidents or errors become teaching moments and help all the students.

A second model is to have a lab assistant, graduate student or other person conduct the demonstration while you discuss what is happening and explain it as the other person does the chopping, cooking, blending, kneading, baking, or table setting. This model allows you to observe the students patterns of attention and respond to the wrinkled brows and other indications that they are not focused or understanding what is happening.

A third model involves students teaching other students after following your demonstration. This way of communicating the key steps in a cooking, baking, laboratory, or dining room situations places the focus on students showing each other. It encourages everyone to pay close attention, and the ones who are showing their colleagues learn it really well and become the experts. If you use this model often, different groups of students become experts in a range of cooking, baking or pastry skills and then can support the rest of the students.

Evaluation and Retention
At the end of each demonstration – regardless of the model used – remember to ask students what they saw and what parts were the most critical. It encourages them to reflect on what they watched and pushes them to separate the minor points from the major ones. In this way, you encourage their critical thinking and promote retention of what they observed. Doing a demonstration without any discussion afterward is mostly a waste of time since students do not learn as much from watching as they do from watching and discussing what they observed.

Have fun trying these models of demonstrations. Next month, we will discuss another teaching technique – providing feedback. If you have suggestions for other topics or teaching practices you want to share, send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I will include them in future Mayo’s Clinics.

Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT, is retired as a clinical professor of hotel and tourism management at New York University. As principal of Mayo Consulting Services, he continues to teach around the globe and is a regular presenter at CAFÉ events nationwide.