Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is it time to rethink the way university lectures are delivered?

Maybe. I'm all for efforts to make the learning environment more interactive. I'm less certain that there's a single way to do it best, or that even doing it at all will be "efficient" for the bigger schools. A few things:
1. Students will benefit from being confronted with (and even struggling through) a multitude of diverse teaching styles. This might sometimes include "boring" lectures. They will face different leadership styles in their jobs and will should be prepared for the fact that the world doesn't revolve around them.
2. GIGO (garbage-in-garbage-out). Regardless of teaching style, students will ultimately get out of a class only what they put in.
3. Experiential learning is good for reinforcing theories and principles if used in a complementary fashion, but can't substitute for learning the theories and principles themselves.
4. Disfluency. In some ways making the material more quickly understood does not make the material better understood. Sure, it will be fun, and likely boost a professor's course evaluations, but there is research that shows a little bit of struggle (on the students' part) can go a long way.

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