In Defense of Lecture

July 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm 21 comments

Lectures have a black eye on college campuses today.  We’re told that they are useless, and that they are ineffective with out “explicit constructionism.” We’re told to use active learning techniques in lecture, like clickers.  I’m realizing that there’s nothing wrong with lecture itself, and that the psychology results tell us that lectures should be a highly efficient form of learning.  The problem is that there is an interaction between lecture as learning intervention and our students. That is an education (or broadly, a learning science) result, and it’s important to note the distinction between education (as instructional engineering, as psychology-in-practice) and psychology.

I just served on a Psychology Masters thesis committee.  In 2009, Micki Chi published a paper where she posited a sequence of learning approaches: From passive, to active, to constructive.  She suggested that moving along the sequence resulted in better learning. While her paper drew on lots of dyad comparison studies between two of those styles of learning, nobody had compared all three in a single experiment.  This Masters student tested all three at once. He put subjects into one of three conditions:

  • Passive: Where students simply read a text on ecology drawn from a Sophomore-level textbook.
  • Active: Where students either (a) highlighted text of interest or (b) copy-pasted key sections into “Notes.”
  • Constructive: Where students either (a) created self-explanations of the text or (b) created questions about the text.

He had a test on the content immediately after the training, and another a week later.  Bottomline: No difference on either test. But the Masters student was smarter than just leaving it at that.  He also asked students to self-report on what they were thinking about when they read the text, like “I identified the most important ideas” or “I summarized (to myself) the text” (both signs of “active” cognition in Chi’s paper), or “I connected the text to ideas I already knew” or “I made hypotheses or predictions about the text” (“constructive” level).  Those self-reported higher-levels of cognitive processing were highly correlated with the test scores.  Micki Chi called these “potential covert activities” in these kinds of studies.  That’s a bit of a misnomer, because in reality, it’s those “covert” activities that you’re really trying to engender in the students!

The problem is that Georgia Tech students (the subjects in the study) are darn smart and well-practiced learners.  Even when “just reading” a text, they think about it, explain it to themselves, and summarize it to themselves.  They think about it, and that’s where the learning comes from.  All the “active learning” activities can help with engendering these internal cognitive activities, but they’re not necessary.

Lectures are a highly-efficient form of teaching.  Not only do they let us reach many students at once, but they play upon important principles of instructional design like the modality effect.  Hearing information while looking at related pictures (e.g., diagrams on Powerpoint slides) can allow for better learning (more information in less time) than just reading a book on your own.  Coding live in lecture is a “best practice” in teaching computer science. I don’t dispute all the studies about lectures, however — lectures don’t usually work.  Why?

We add active learning opportunities to lectures because students don’t usually learn that much from a 90 minute lecture. Why? Because it takes a lot of effort to keep learning constructively during a 90 minute lecture.  Because most students (especially undergraduates) are not great learners.  This doesn’t have anything to do with the cognitive processes of learning.  It has everything about motivation, affect, and sustained effort to apply those cognitive processes of learning.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that most of these studies of lectures take place with WEIRD students: “Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic cultures.”  A recent study in the journal Science shows that many of our studies based on WEIRD students break down when the same studies are used with students from different cultures.  Maybe WEIRD students are lazy or inexperienced at focused learning effort. Maybe students in other cultures could focus for 90 whole minutes.  In any case, I teach WEIRD students, and our studies of WEIRD students show that lectures don’t work for them.

There’s another aspect of this belief that lectures don’t work.  I attended talks at education conferences lately where the speaker announces that “Lectures don’t work” and proceeds to engage the audience in some form of active learning, like small group discussion.  I hate that.  I am a good learner.  I take careful notes, I review them and look up interesting ideas and referenced papers later, and if the lecture really captured my attention, I will blog on the lecture later to summarize it.  I take a multi-hour trip to attend a conference and hear this speaker, and now I have to talk to whatever dude happens to be sitting next to me? If you recognize that the complete sentence is “Lectures don’t work…for inexperienced or lazy learners,” then you realize that using “active learning” with professionals at a formal conference is insulting to your audience.  You are assuming that they can’t learn on their own, without your scaffolding.

When I was a student, I remember being taught “learning skills” which included how to take good notes and how to review those notes. I don’t know that those lessons worked, and it’s probably more effective to change lecture than to try to change all those students.  We do want our students to become better learners, and it’s worth exploring how to make that happen.  But let’s make sure that we’re clear in what we’re saying: Lectures don’t work for learning among our traditional American (at least) undergraduate students.  That’s not the same as saying that lectures don’t work for learning.

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21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. beyondanomie  |  July 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Came across your blog via Readomattic, looking for psychology posts.

    I teach a bit at both the undergraduate and graduate level. If I was to generalise, I’d suggest that as people get older, and more specialised in their field (and so more interested in it), they’re more likely to apply active focus to learning opportunities that present themselves (in whatever format it appears).

    The trouble with lectures is that they require the most active approach on the part of the listener. For unenthusiastic, less specialised, or distracted and bored audiences, they will not actively focus. A more active approach on the part of the educator might be needed to restore focus on the part of the audience. I’d suggest that it’s part of being a good educator to adapt the delivery of the message to suit the audience.

    Of course, some audiences are beyond redemption… 😉

    Reply
  • 2. Mark Urban-Lurain  |  July 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Mark:

    Are you trolling? Ok, I’ll bite 🙂

    Let me just make a couple of points and pointers to some basic literature.

    1. Reading is not lecturing. Drawing general conclusions about lectures from one study of students’ reading is not warranted.

    2. The issue is not “lecturing” but understanding that learning is not an information transfer problem, but a knowledge construction problem. All of your examples are examples of active knowledge construction on the part of the learner.

    3. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” Faculty personal anecdotes about their own learning are the LEAST useful data to invoke. I’ll invoke an evolutionary model here. Faculty are people who survived the selective pressures of college to go on to get a PhD and then become faculty. They then go on to perpetuate the same models of instruction to which they were exposed because nobody taught them anything else. Faculty are not representative of undergraduates at any institution, the vast majority of whom do not go on to graduate school (particularly in CS or Engineering, but also in other sciences.)

    4. Lectures (your example of a conference talk) can work for EXPERTS because EXPERTS have a rich conceptual framework to which they can connect the material in the lecture and evaluate it (see also #3 above.) Your examples of your behaviors (note taking, checking references) are fine examples of metacognition, but there is more to it than the simple behaviors. You have a rich conceptual framework against which you are framing your notes, evaluating references, etc. Undergraduates are NOVICES and have shallow conceptual frameworks on which to “hang” the lecture material and construct their knowledge.

    There’s tons of actual research data (not anecdotes) about how people learn and what the implications are for instruction and policy. Here’s two that all college faculty should know that provide evidence for my claims:

    Bransford, J. (Ed.). (2000). How people learn brain, mind, experience, and school (Expanded ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

    Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Best,
    Mark

    Mark Urban-Lurain, Ph.D.
    Director of Instructional Technology Research & Development
    Division of Science and Mathematics Education
    College of Natural Science
    Michigan State University

    Reply
    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  July 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

      Hmm.
      1. I didn’t say that reading is lecturing. I said that students can engage in constructive learning processes while reading. I implied that they can do them while lecturing, too. It’s the thinking that matters, not the external activity. That’s the point.
      2. Sure. Did I say otherwise?
      3. Agreed. My only anecdote is that I hate it when speakers at a conference throw in “active learning” activities in their talks. Your #4 point supports my argument that such activity is unnecessary.

      There are lots of great studies, and I love How People Learn. But let’s distinguish between educational studies (what works in practice) and psychological studies (how the human mind learns). Humans can learn from lecture. Period. That’s a psychological truth. Active learning activities in lecture with students leads to better learning outcomes. That’s an educational finding.

      Mark

      Reply
      • 4. Erik Engbrecht  |  July 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm

        Mark,
        Regarding #1…this is entirely based on my own personal experience but I think that listening to a lecture takes far more concentration than reading, and thus leaves far less brain capacity for actually thinking about the subject. When reading you can stop, go back, jump around, and generally control the flow. You can put the book/paper down and think. When listening to a lecture you have no such luxury. I’ve often found myself torn between trying to take notes and trying to actually pay attention.

        The advantage of having a lecturer is that a lecturer can produce feelings much more effectively than a book can and convey subtle cues about importance through tone and body language. But most lecturers don’t achieve this, especially in complex subjects, and rather try to be substitutes for a book.

        -Erik

        Reply
  • 5. Alan Kay  |  July 27, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    One question to ask is: what part(s) of (inter)media do lectures occupy?

    I would say that they are more of a subpart of “theater” than anything else, and much of what works and doesn’t work is quite in common with the general principles of theater — and similarly with what kinds of communications are going on and what parts of what subjects work in this genre.

    For some high content subjects, this is an uneasy match at best, and for many of these there is almost a miss. (This is partly because some of the newer subjects are not at all well represented by oral discourse, but were part of the new patterns of thought brought by reading and writing.)

    (There is lots more to be said about all this which I will spare all by omitting — but which can be readily figured out by thinking about what works and doesn’t in theater.)

    I think what you get in a lecture for subjects that don’t fit well is the chance to feel the enthusiasm of the personality who is the teacher, you can get something like a commercial (or in movie terms, a trailer) for the real ideas and knowledge which must be learned very differently, and you can sometimes get important points of view (which in theater pretty much have to be turned into one-liners or slogans to be memorable enough to be of use).

    Simon Levin, the mathematical biologist at Princeton, is very good at giving a talk about his subject, and he is an example of how the theatrical context of talking (and with images to help) can be done. In the end you wind up understanding just enough to be fascinated and wanting to know more — and most of the “more” is not best done through listening to people talk.

    The main use of theater as art is to “remind” us of things we have let the bustling world push aside and to turn almost understood ideas into apparent insights. This works so much better for the story world of humans than the scientific world. Some of the gap is bridged by great lecturers via stories and other devices that are “theatrical”, but I think in the end that lectures don’t fit so well.

    Another way to think of this is that since other genres are better conduits and environments for learning some of the difficult subjects, the gathering together of students and teacher could be used for questions and pointers.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    Reply
  • 6. Owen Astrachan  |  July 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Lectures/Talks: I will fall asleep at most talks in our department if all i do is listen. I simply cannot concentrate when someone is using equations with nested sigmas to explain the latest result blah blah blah blah

    I need to have my computer ready to look up something the speaker talks about. Or I need to nudge the person next to me.

    Of course if I actually *know* something about what the person is talking about, I don’t fall asleep so easily. I’m not sure my students know what I’m talking about. So …. WAIT A MINUTE, I’m not like my students and they’re not like me. Except they are.

    What am I supposed to do? Not eat before a talk. Bring something else to do if I anticipate getting lost in the talk.

    I really appreciate the differences Mark is elucidating the differences between psychological and educational findings and the effects of personality noted by Alan Kay.

    Joe Lecture

    Reply
  • 7. Aaron Lanterman  |  July 28, 2010 at 2:43 am

    I wonder if there might be something simple happening under the surface…

    Universities typically have hour lectures or 1.5 hour lectures (50 minutes and 80 minutes at Georgia Tech.)

    Think about the TED Talks – they top out at 20 minutes. TED brings in Big Names, which at any other conference would typically be given hour-long keynotes. I think the 20 minute limit is the main key to the viral success of the TED Talks. On one level, that limit forces speakers to distill their message down into its highest impact-per-minute form. But, I think there’s something more practical going on. If somebody sends you a link to an interesting hour-long lecture, you’ll bookmark it for later but probably never get around to seeing it. But if you peek at the the timing info on youtube clip, and it shows only 20 minutes, you’re more likely to press play.

    I’m wondering if there’s something magical about that 20 minute time limit; maybe our attention spans sort of naturally time out at 20 minutes. That would seem to match various “active lecture” strategies I’ve seen that involve giving a quiz every 20 minutes or changing the format every 20 minutes, or something along those lines.

    Reply
    • 8. Alan Kay  |  July 28, 2010 at 8:20 am

      I’ve given a few TED talks here and there, and have seen a few good ones in each of the formats chosen over the years.

      The best one was at the first TED when there were only two speakers for each half day (and Herbie Hancock at night) — was by Nicholas Negroponte who gave a masterful 1 hour and 45 minute introduction in depth to what was really going on and what was going to happen.

      At this TED the third thing that would happen each half day was to open two breakout rooms for each speaker for an hour plus of questions and answers by the audience. The audience of about 1000 people was pretty much at the same level as the speakers and so this was a rich experience over the 3 days.

      The attempt here was to provide enough time to talk about NEW rather than just NEWS. And it worked as well as I’ve ever seen it.

      I’ve also seen some good talks at recent TEDs in the 20 minute format. These are all NEWS talks, and are commercials for the ideas at that, and most of the ones the audience liked had heavy visuals. (They were “television” in other words.)

      However, a few others stick in the mind. Edward de Bono gave a fantastic talk (I thought) that Chris Anderson disliked so much that he tried to hurry de Bono up and off the stage. (This enraged me.) There was the young lady epidemiologist who “just talked” about what it’s really like in Africa. Al Gore gave a great talk. Etc.

      The former had real content (and was deemed much too slow by the boss of TED), the latter was an appeal by an appealing human being who took our understanding of our own diseases to the perspective of what mass disease can be like, and in Al Gore’s case, he was able to do a good NEWS talk by correctly assuming that the audience would be aware of X but not delta-x.

      The quality of the audience was the highest in the early TEDs and this dropped off considerably as it became iconic and “a place to be at”. In other words, it went from being a kind of “high culture” process to a much more pop culture “happening”.

      In other words, from being able to eat a great meal with great people at table to just having to eat the menu (as Murray Gell-Mann would say).

      The last talk I gave at TED was about the OLPC XO and *why* and *what* we were trying to accomplish. If your audience doesn’t actually understand — for example — the psychological underpinnings of learning, or powerful ideas, or the anthropological situation of human beings, or the effects of media on thinking, etc., then imagine trying to give a talk on NEW in 20 minutes, or even a commercial.

      People regularly go to theater and movies and shows and even television that last many times longer than 20 minutes, so I think your basic wondering about attention spans is way off (and there is a lot of evidence contrary to your guess, even for young children).

      But if you think about what TED actually is these days and how the audience uses it, I think you’ll get much closer to what is going on.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

      Reply
  • 9. Alfred Thompson  |  July 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I think a lot of the value of a lecture is going to be the sort of quality of the speaker. Not on knowledge but on communication. Content is key of course but a speaker who puts everyone to sleep with a poor presentation is not that valuable. Many academics are, sad to say, very poor speakers. They may be outstanding in their field and know a huge amount about the topic but if no one can concentrate on what they are saying what good is all that?
    We seem to spend very little time training teachers to present and even less on training professors. Industry on the other hand spends great sums on training speakers. The higher up in “rank” the more training is provided. Not that all industry speakers are great of course. Some are very poor. But on average I think you will find that speaker trainng pays off.

    Reply
  • 10. Michael Sparks  |  July 29, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Hold on. Someone did a thesis on this:

    * Passive: Where students simply read a text on ecology drawn from a Sophomore-level textbook.
    * Active: Where students either (a) highlighted text of interest or (b) copy-pasted key sections into “Notes.”
    * Constructive: Where students either (a) created self-explanations of the text or (b) created questions about the text.

    Isn’t that “just” Confucious?

    “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

    Reply
    • 11. Mark Guzdial  |  July 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

      See my earlier post about the difference between “knowing” as an education researcher and “knowing” as a psychologist. Confucious wasn’t a scientist and offered no evidence for his statement.

      Reply
    • 12. Alan Kay  |  July 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      One of the fun things about this slogan (which was the operating slogan of the “Open Magnet School of LA” where we spent many years trying and learning) is that it is very related to Jerome Bruner’s notion of Enactive-Iconic-Symbolic (which I turned into the slogan “Doing with Images makes Symbols”).

      The added wrinkle here — and we don’t know whether Confucius had a slant on this — is the conjecture (and I think a very good one) that it is direct physical engagement that builds the framework for seeing and other configurational organizations, and these in turn furnish much of the basis for the more abstract frameworks of symbols and language.

      There is quite a bit of evidence that this is likely to be the case in children, and less but some (e.g. the Thornton Tufts Physics stuff) that it also obtains strongly in adults.

      So: Doing with Images makes Symbols is a simple way to think about this generally, and especially when applied to UI design, and especially for UIs for facilitating learning.

      Cheers,

      Alan

      Reply
  • 13. Mike Byrne  |  July 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Ahh, the old punching bag, the lecture. If you ever want to get a room full of people to (appear to) agree with you, nothing works like a good postmodern generalization like “women are smarter than men” or “lectures don’t work.” I have a diatribe on the sociology of the first one of those but this is not the appropriate forum for that, so I want to talk about the second one.

    Fundamentally, the claim that “lectures don’t work” is one of those great exercises in failures to understand complex causation. Mark is exactly right: lectures do work, and can actually work pretty well, under the right circumstances. The issue is the frequency with which those “right circumstances” come around and perhaps more importantly, what’s a lecture, anyway?

    For the first, as has been pointed out already, lectures seem to work pretty well for highly-motivated audiences with strong backgrounds. As has also been pointed out, most Ph.D.s were members of this group as undergraduates, so from their perspective, nothing is broken, so what’s all the fuss about? I learned tons from all kinds of lectures, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student. (I still remember the “aha moment” I had with pointers in Comp 280 *lecture* as an undergrad.) Of course, as Mark has pointed out so colorfully elsewhere, you can teach programming by throwing someone in a closet for a couple weeks with a copy of K&R as long as it’s the right someone being thrown in.

    On the flip side, it probably also matters a lot who’s doing the lecturing and how they prepare for it. At the risk of being crucified by a rabid gang of constructionists, I will out myself: I lecture. In almost all my classes, at least some of the time, anyway. And you know what? I’m pretty sure, based on what’s coming back to me in exams, that students are learning. Of course, Rice students are pretty smart and motivated, so that doesn’t say much about lecturing in general. More important than that, though, is that they appear to be learning more than they used to! Are the students getting smarter? Somehow I doubt it. I’m pretty sure that what’s going on is that *I’m* getting better… at lecturing.

    Of course, how I’ve done that is by paying attention to what I’m doing in order to change what the students are doing, by explicitly encouraging more active/constructive activities by the students during the lectures. I lecture from slides (I hate PowerPoint, I use Keynote), but I always give the students the slides in advance of the class. I want them thinking, not transcribing, and I explicitly tell them this at the beginning of the semester. I pay close attention in class to things like posture and facial expressions, and I stop the lectures a lot to ask questions of the class. Blank stares and other signs mean I’d better explain whatever I just explained again, which sometimes means going off the slides and heading to the whiteboard. (Incidentally, I think videotaped lectures, by and large, have to be on average pretty awful, because there’s no way for the lecturer to gauge the audience’s reaction, because there is no live audience.) So, what am I getting at? It’s not that I’m a great lecturer, as I don’t have enough good comparative data to support such a claim anyway.

    What I’m getting at is that “lecture” is itself not a unitary activity. Not all “lectures” are created equal. And if a “lecture” has a number of features explicitly designed to promote active learning during the lecture, is it still a lecture?

    More interestingly, why did I decide to incorporate all these things into my lectures? Because the education literature says they should help! Many of my colleagues have done the same kinds of things for the same reasons. So maybe “Lectures don’t work for learning among our traditional American (at least) undergraduate students.” needs even more qualification, because what exactly is and isn’t a lecture, now that many professors are changing the way they lecture, in response to the educational findings?

    Reply
  • 14. Charles Severance  |  July 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Mark – nice post – thanks for bringing this up. I agree that people overuse the “down with the lecture” statement. It is almost like they are trying to be “Part of the cool, hip club” rather than thinking carefully about the pros and cons about various forms of teaching and learning.

    I like how you talk about conditions where lectures work well and conditions where they work less effectively. This is the kind of dialog that would really help improve teaching – but sadly, so many people have simply bought the notion hook line and sinker and they apply it to everything like salt and pepper. It is much easier to take an oversimplified view on something and bake it into one’s thinking.

    Here is my little thought-bite. Lets say you had 10 minutes to tell a group of people about to go on some dangerous mission on the kinds of things that will help them survive the mission. Would a smart teach take the 10 minutes and simply tell those folks the information they need – or would you set up some small group discussions – or use clickers to figure out if they get it.

    Of course you would simply tell them the facts they needed. This is a situation where the learners are highly motivated and focused and the information is truly important and relevant to them in the next few hours so they will listen intently and absorb the material.

    Now seldom is most teaching as intense and personal and relevant as my trivial exaggerated example – but as you and others say, lecture *is* efficient when the speaker is good and the listeners are skilled and motivated.

    Maybe those who really think lectures are bad are either (a) bad lecturers or (b) teaching material that has so little value/relevance to the student that they could care less about the material (i.e. like typical corporate training).

    I would think that the issue might be more about teaching what we should teach rather than coming up with ways to more efficiently force students to learn material that they are neither interested in nor prepared to learn.

    A good exaggerated example of a bad-case for lectures would be High School Chemistry. It is not relevant at all – mostly rote memorization of silly formulas and it is not even a pre-requisite for any other high school course. I would highly recommend against lectures in this situation. But again -my first instinct would be getting to “what should we be teaching in High School Chemistry anyways?”.

    Good luck with trying to have a rational conversation about this 🙂 I am on your side on this one.

    Reply
  • […] talk with people sitting near them for 3-4 minutes to develop questions for the two speakers. Yeah, I know that I just said that I hated “active learning” in a conference lecture, but this really worked. It didn’t take anytime from any speaker (it’s hard to talk […]

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  • 16. Maria Andersen  |  January 1, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I have to say AMEN to your comments about “active learning” at professional conferences. I have generally paid a lot of money to land in the same space as the speakers, who are generally very insightful and great thinkers. The conference gives them 45-60 minutes to impart their insights and ideas. I want as much as they can effectively communicate in that time. With every 10-minute “let’s discuss”, I just got less value for that conference. Sometimes it can be very appropriate to have active learning in a session, but to require it, or to require no lecture at all is ridiculous.

    When IS it appropriate to model an active learning format? When you have DAYS with participants … when you can actually have them experience REAL active learning, not just a mock-up of what it might look like. For workshops, I advocate strongly that there be more active learning than lecture, but in a workshop, you are trying to learn a large body of topical knowledge in a short amount of time. At a conference, you’re usually trying to dip your toes into 20 topics in a short time. All you can do is get a feel for whether any of the topics are appropriate for future study.

    Reply
  • 17. Ana Abad-Jorge  |  January 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I accessed this original post via Stephen’s Web in a posting titled “The Tops Posts of 2010”. I found this article to be very relevant to my practice as a nutrition and dietetics educator & program director within a nutrition internship program. Of particular interest, is the distinction between viewing the effectiveness of the traditional lecture from the perspective of an education result vs. a psychology result. I would like to make a couple of points given the idea that lectures don’t work with “WEIRD” students within our western, and particularly American culture. Our internship students are individuals who have completed their undergraduate degrees, occasionally I have a couple who also have a Master’s degree, fit the classic description of the “WEIRD” student, and while having an undergraduate education, they still lack experience in the professional workplace, and are for the most part not very sophisticated as learners. From my experience, taking the traditional lecture, as an excellent way to transfer the basic knowledge or content and then blending it with an interactive handout (NOT a PowerPoint handout of slides) which requires to take notes of their own, along with some critical thinking questions, pauses for discussion and shared perspectives, and application and implementation activities of the content material, seems to work quite well with our students, who are not as yet, experienced and seasoned learners. It takes the lecture content information and fosters their own construction of knowledge and meaning making. I will say, however, that I am fortunate to work with my internship class of only 10 students, which makes this approach effective and manageable. How it would work with a lecture hall of over 100 students is another matter altogether.

    The next point I believe is on target was the idea that the educator needs to select with teaching approach is best and most effective depending on the learners themselves and their learning style, level of sophistication and experience, whether undergraduate, graduate students or seasoned professionals. I do completely agree that the active learning/highly interactive and discussion based approach is not the right way to go at most professional meetings. As a member of a nutrition support professional group, most of the presentations and symposia I attend are indeed lecture based, but additionally we have numerous “focused learning sessions” (formerly known as roundtables), which are limited to 15-20 participants, where the “speaker” is not a traditional speaker, per se, but a “facilitator” on a discussion topic that the participants have experience with and can contribute their perspectives based on their own institution’s experience or their own research.

    Reply
  • […] some sets of learners.Mark Guzdial, a professor in Computer Science from the US, touches on this in this blog post. One of his points is raised in the following I attended talks at education conferences lately […]

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  • […] it — that’s why I’m doing peer-interaction in my class.  I still believe that lecture can work, the evidence is strong that learner-engagement beats lecture, especially in large STEM classes. I […]

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  • […] of someone else, as opposed to being about students constructing. I’ve written before about the value of lectures, and I really do believe that students can learn from lectures. But not all students learn from […]

    Reply
  • […] avoid using” which is what I meant.  Lecture has its place — I wrote a blog post defending lecture which still gets viewed pretty regularly.  The empirical evidence suggests that we should use […]

    Reply

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