Eduvation Blog

The Death of Lecture

For more than a thousand years, students have been gathering in lecture halls to listen to the “sage on the stage.” But shorter attention spans, new technologies, and empirical testing of learning outcomes have led us to question the tried and true historical “transmission” model of education. In this week’s episode, Ken Steele gives a brief lecture on “the Death of Lecture.”

Check out how familiar a 14th-century lecture hall at the Universite di Bologne looks. Former Quest University president David Helfand explains how the human brain is wired for two-way communication – and the lecture is the opposite of that. fMRI studies have demonstrated the impact of curiosity on the brain’s ability to soak up new information. Gen Y and Z have significantly decreased attention spans. They don’t have the patience for a 60-minute lecture, and the Columbia University TEDx organizers worry that they don’t have the focus for a 16-minute TED talk either. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that students in lecture classes are 1.5x as likely to fail the course. The lecture is actually “toxic” to student learning, but large first-year lectures subsidize upper-year seminars and graduate studies.

In the past century, most of the innovation in undergraduate teaching and learning has amounted to little more than scaling an outmoded industrial model of education, designed to graduate students into the industrial economy of the 1930s. We need to re-engineering our approach for the 21st century. Instructors often underuse the active learning methodologies, to rely on passive methods like lecture and demonstrations.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at active learning in the classroom.

#ICYMI, Trinity Western University has a dynamic new commercial – and out of 90 seconds, just 1.5 show students in a lecture hall. Seems like a wise idea!

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