Lectures still pack a punch
Despite educational trends, traditional classroom teaching is still useful. | John Uy/THE CHIMES
An estimated 60 percent of students find their lectures boring, according to The Guardian. From personal experience alone, when teachers or professors spend the majority of the class lecturing, a good amount of people will give the teacher a negative review saying the class was not particularly engaging.
More Likely to Fail
Students will not only sometimes say a lecture is boring, but will also claim they learned nothing from the lecture. An article in Science Magazine points out students in traditional lecture classes are 1.5 times more likely to fail.
These statistics have been out for a few years and educators are responding to them. In my classes, teachers would apologize for lecturing so long, or tell the class they are trying to break up the class session with other activities.
But this trend has not only been occurring in my own educational circle. Education as a whole continues to move away from traditional lectures.
New York’s Department of Education released templates with no “lectures,” only “mini-lessons” where 10 to 15 minutes of class time is dedicated to the teacher speaking to the class.
Although a certain amount of students are ecstatic at this change in education, I am less pleased. From elementary school onward, I have loved lectures and excelled in classes where they constitute the majority of class time. To me, a good lecture is like listening to a good story, and hearing the words spoken as I took notes solidified the information in my mind.
Focus on Information
I am an introvert who feels drained from extended social interaction. When small group or class discussions make up the majority of the class time, by the end of the session I feel significantly more anxious than engaged. Lectures allow students to focus more on the information the educator presents and reflect more deeply on the topic rather than think about what they are going to say next.
When students struggle to understand the material in a class, it is far more anxiety-inducing to answer a question incorrectly in front of everyone than sitting back and slowly comprehending what is being presented and asking questions. Many people will be thrown off by their mistakes and disengage in the discussion.
Discussion groups and hands-on activities are definitely important learning tools for different types of learners, but if 60 percent of students find lectures boring, the other 40 percent do not.
In the same article in The Guardian that noted the majority of students found lectures boring, it also noted PowerPoints seemed to act as a major cause of the boredom, not the lectures themselves.
When teachers focus on teaching well instead of putting all the information on a presentation like PowerPoint or Prezi, students become more engaged and learn more.
An article in The Atlantic entitled “Don’t Give Up on Lectures” cites a study where students were actually more likely to retain information from lectures than not. With this in mind, the education system needs to do a little bit of backtracking. Do not bash lectures or remove them from classrooms entirely. If a teacher or professor teaches best in a lecture, the students will learn best in the lecture too — just please make them good.