Lectures selling students short: evidence from 'Science'
Academics will go to any length to defend the lecture (see twitter feed on my Don't lecture me! talk). No matter how much evidence there is to show that it is poor pedagogic practice, they resist the change. Even worse are those on the technology side in HE who ignore the arguments. They’re like those creationist scientists who have to reconcile empirical evidence with blind faith. In any case, here’s another study (yawn) that proves the obvious – lectures are selling students short.
Lectures v research-based instruction
In this study ‘Improved Learning in a Large-enrollment Physics Class’ by Deslauriers, Schelew & Wieman, from the University of British Columbia, lectures were compared with research-based instruction. The study was well designed with two large groups (n=267 n=271), one taught using an “experienced, highly-trained instructor” who taught using lectures, the other by a “trained but inexperienced instructor” using research-based instruction, based on cognitive science. Both taught an undergraduate physics course on electromagnetic waves with clearly identified learning objectives.
Higher attention, attendance & attainment
The results were astounding. Not only higher engagement and increased student attendance in the non-lecture group but a massive difference in attainment. To be precise, the ‘lectured’ group scored 41% on the test, the ‘interactive’ group 74%. Pretty strong medicine.
The excuse is HE that ‘we’ve always done it this way’ but if other areas of human endeavour were to take this attitude "in medicine we would still be bloodletting, in physics we would be trying to reach the moon with very large rubber bands" says Wieman. The evidence is overwhelming from Bligh to Mazur – lectures don’t work. So let’s cut to the quick here, we have an entire profession ‘lecturers’ whose job title and practice are deeply flawed. Show me a Professor of Education, especially a Professor of E-learning, who lectures, and I’ll show you a hypocrite who doesn’t read the research.