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Lectures Aren't Just Boring, They're Ineffective, Too, Study Finds 166

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods."
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Lectures Aren't Just Boring, They're Ineffective, Too, Study Finds

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  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES ( 2546640 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:34PM (#46983999)
    ...are 1.5 times harder than topics that can be easily turned in to fun activities and games. Voila!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:36PM (#46984033)

    are more likely to fail. so let us design our college curriculum around the retards who drink a 32 ounce mt. dew before class and can't shut off their phone less they miss a tweet. that will punish the people who actually can pay attention and maybe even enjoy the lecture for being smart. the ultimate policy would be that if a frat boy is bored he's allowed to punch a nerd in the arm. that will teach those fucking nerds to pay attention!

  • Sherberts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by madsenj37 ( 612413 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:44PM (#46984101)
    My accounting teacher at UCSC would give us Sherberts, like you would have orange sherbert between a mulitple course meal to cleanse your palette. It was an unrelated quick discussion multiple times in a class and it worked well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:49PM (#46984159)

    Studies show homework is ineffective, too. If the trend continues, education won't be deemed useful -- only learning while on the job will be deemed useful. Couple this with the fact that nobody wants to hire "green" people and the ecosystem of learning failure is complete.

    Sounds to me like this is begging for something like "free structured internships". You don't pay money for school, but your employer doesn't pay you for your work. As long as there's some oversight ensuring interns aren't stuck with grunt work which doesn't facilitate learning it'd cost less for students, less for employers, and contribute to the workforce more directly.

  • by GlobalEcho ( 26240 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:20PM (#46984475)

    One reason lectures are so popular is that they are far, far easier for the instructor. Putting together a useful interactive activity is much harder than simply planning what to say. Even incorporating someone else's pre-designed activity is difficult to synchronize with one's own lesson plan. At the grade school level, I believe there is considerable room for improvement through teachers learning how to share and use activity plans.

    At the college and graduate school level, it gets much harder on the professor as potential sources of planned activities thin out and specialization increases. Increasing interactivity demands much more time of these professors since most such improvements will have to be custom-designed for the class. Given the social structure of university compensation (research counts, teaching doesn't), I find it hard to see interactivity at the college or grad school level increasing very quickly.

    That said, college and grad school courses are perhaps more interactive than they are given credit for. They often meet just a few times a week, reducing the boring lecture hours, and assign a lot of homework, increasing interactivity in a way that fails to appear in the studies cited.

    For context, I am an adjunct professor (at the graduate school level). Based on this daily of studies I try to include some interactivity but it's really hard, so that mainly degenerates into a few intra-class status quizzes. My classes tend to meet for 2.5-3 hours per week, and have 5-20 hours of homework on top of that.

  • by bi$hop ( 878253 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:23PM (#46984517)

    One of my calculus professors told us on the first day of class that note-taking was forbidden during his lectures. He argued that, in our quest to write down everything he said, we would inevitably miss important points or misunderstand key concepts. I was skeptical at first, but I soon discovered that he was absolutely right. I was able to absorb much more than I thought by listening intently to what he said, and fully focusing on what he drew on the board. In short, his lectures were effective and valuable.

    I never took notes in any other class after that, and my grades never suffered from it. In most classes, the lecture materials were made available for later download anyway! Moreover, the freedom to simply pay attention actually made lectures more enjoyable.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:33PM (#46984611) Homepage

    Most lectures I've been to were lectures because it's practically one of the very few ways one professor can address hundreds of people, of course with smaller groups you could do more but then you need lots of assistants and there are study groups that are essentially students learning on their own. Their main purpose is because having regularly scheduled events drags the undisciplined through the curriculum and because socially it doesn't feel like you've been stuck with your nose in a book all day. Personally I felt the most productive way was just crunching through the book until it made sense, but I think that's very individual.

  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:55PM (#46984843)
    I've attended hundreds of hours of classes, and I've taught graduate courses in engineering. If your lecture has an introduction, preferably with a motivational topic, followed by an outline, a thorough discussion that includes examples for each concept, and then a summary, your students will learn more than if they did not show up and just read the notes.

    Of course you need to engage them, ask them questions (I find ways to get them to contribute by offering homework points (capped) for interaction), but that's part of preparing a good lecture. I think most of the lectures that are criticized are those prepared by teachers that would rather do something else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @02:01AM (#46987163)

    I remember I used to spend lecture time doing three things:
    1) writing notes on things I did not know
    2) considering alternative views against what the professor was saying
    3) searching and preparing awesome questions for the professor

    #3 is by far what motivated me and kept me attentive. If my question was "good" enough, I could get a great response from the professor by tapping into their specific knowledge and experience. Indeed, I could actually shift the course of class discussion if I was strategic about it. And when other students asked questions, I enjoyed considering it myself and seeing if I could answer it.

    Never once though did I imagine that lectures were intended to make me retain information. Instead, I always assumed lectures existed to give me a chance to walk through material interactively with someone far more experienced. A few rare lectures (suited to my level of understanding and sufficiently polished) actually answered my questions as I conjured them, but in most cases the teacher needed student participation.


I've got a bad feeling about this.