In Defense of Continuous Exposition by the Teacher: Definitions of “Lecture” and “Active Learning”

October 12, 2015 at 8:00 am 4 comments

One of the pushbacks that I got in response to my proposal to encourage active learning in teaching statements for hiring, promotion, and tenure was the question, “What are you calling lecture?  What is active learning?”  The below-linked blog post does a good job of defining each.

While we’re at it, here’s the consensus definition of active learning that Freeman et al. used:“Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert. It emphasizes higher-order thinking and often involves group work.”The research seems pretty clear to me. Lecturing, as defined as “continuous exposition by the teacher,” is, in general, on average, less effective at promoting student learning than active learning instruction.

Source: In Defense of Continuous Exposition by the Teacher

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. zamanskym  |  October 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

    So we weren’t disagreeing in past posts at all – what us high school folk typically describe as good teacher dominant lecture style by this definition active learning and I never disagreed that pure teacher lecturing (or what I’d say is bad teacher dominant) with no interaction/questions/discussion at all wouldn’t be as effective.


  • 2. Leonard C. Klein  |  October 13, 2015 at 8:19 am

    I agree with your basic definition of active learning. As a high school teacher who is teaching APCS as a first computer science class I have a hard time getting to the higher order thinking skills. Would you be kind enough to give some examples of what questions that involve higher order thinking skill would look like.
    Thank you

    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  October 13, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I didn’t write the article referring to higher-order thinking skills, Len, so we’d have to ask Derek what he means.

      Higher-order thinking skills are a broad category of skills related to analysis, creation, planning, and self-regulation. CS related higher-order thinking skills might be:

      – Explaining to yourself WHY you’re making this change to your program while debugging.
      – Making an explicit prediction of what you expect to see before you run your program.
      – Being aware when you’re not making progress on a code writing or debugging task, so you need to take a break or try a different strategy.
      – When you explicitly choose a particular programming language or tool for a particular task because there is a good fit of task characteristics and tool strengths.
      – When you make a choice between data structures.

      • 4. Leonard C. Klein  |  October 14, 2015 at 8:03 am

        Thank you, this gives me a better jumping off point for my class questioning.


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