“To lecture or not to lecture” – that seems to be the question that has received much attention in recent years. It is similar to topics such as the positive/negative effects of drinking red wine, eating chocolate or eggs in that the pendulum swings back and forth with each and every individual study that is produced and published. The most recent study is a new analysis of multiple research studies from the University of Washington and recently published by the National Academy of Sciences. This report finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use active learning methods. A great summary of this report appears in Science and titled “Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds.”
One article that appeared regarding lectures in the Journal of College Science Teaching focused on Are Lectures a Think of The Past whereas another was titled Effective Strategies for Engaging Students in Large-Lecture, Nonmajors Science Courses. Another great read on the topic is by Eric Mazur who is at Harvard University where he states that “[t]he trend toward “active learning” may overthrow the style of teaching that has ruled universities for 600 years” in Twilight of the Lecture
Now while these particular examples as well as the report that was produced are focused on lecturing at the college undergraduate level, the reality is lecture happens at all levels albeit in different durations of time and in all subjects. Most times when the topic of lecture comes up as an instructional strategy it is paired with an alternative strategy and over the years educators have encountered peer to peer instruction, cooperative learning, and a variety of other types of presentation and/or engagement styles with flipped learning being one of the more recent ones.
So the question that is posed this month relates to a discussion of YOUR favorite active learning method for classroom instruction or as Mazur hints at your personal style for overthrowing the traditional style of teaching – lecture! What one strategy or approach to instruction have you found to be effective, engaging, and your tried and true approach? These strategies may have educational research to support their use or simply your own anecdotal experiences and action research within your classroom.