December 27, 2016

Take 5… articles on college lectures

Posted by Laura Guertin


To lecture, or not to lecture? Some geoscience faculty will state that less lecture is better, such as this Journal of Geological Education (Gunter, 1993) paper on “Some Thoughts About Teaching Introductory Geology” that states, “The first lesson I learned is that departure from the straight 50-minute-lecture format is critical.” But some faculty feel that there is a need to be a “sage on the stage” at times. There seems to be several articles that have come out in recent years that have mixed reactions to the concept of the college lecture. If you haven’t seen these five articles, they make for an interesting read and great discussion with colleagues.

Shouldn’t Lectures be Obsolete by Now? by Matt Pickles (BBC News, November 23, 2016)

Large Courses Create an Uneven Playing Field, by Perry Samson (Sage on the Stage blog, September 2016)

A Lecture from the Lectured, by students at Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Chronicle Vitae, January 4, 2016)

Are College Lectures Unfair? by Annie Murphy Paul (The New York Times Sunday Review, September 12, 2015)

Why We Are Teaching Science Wrong, and How to Make it Right, by M. Mitchell Waldrop (Nature News, July 15, 2015)

The year 2014 was certainly a busy year for online articles and postings about this very topic – seems like years later, we still have not reached a decision on usefulness, fairness, and effectiveness of a classroom lecture.

Digital Natives Like a Good Lecture, Too, by Katrina Gulliver (The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 1, 2014)

Is Lecture Really the Thing that Needs Fixing? by Robert Talbert (The Chronicle of Higher Education Casting Out Nines blog, August 12, 2014)

Ten reasons we should ditch university lectures, by Donald Clark (The Guardian, May 15, 2014) which follows from Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds, by Aleszu Bajak (Science, May 12, 2014) and the NSF Press Release 14-064, Enough with the Lecturing.

For those that teach large lecture courses that are looking for active learning pedagogies to implement so that you are not a “sage on the stage” during your entire 50-minute class period, check out this SERC Site Guide for Teaching Large Classes.