Reassessing the Value of University Lectures

Over the past few years the question of whether the lecture is an effective teaching method has been one of the most heatedly debated topics in the field of higher education. While research on the effectiveness of lectures has been carried out since at least the 1960s, the value of the lecture has been increasingly questioned recently for a number of reasons that include waning lecture attendance rates by students, the heightened emphases on active learning and interactive modes of teaching, and technological advances that allow for the instructional component of lectures to be delivered online.

In this paper, it is proposed that lectures offer some important pedagogical, practical and social benefits that support their continued presence in the university curricula. However, if lectures are to be retained, it is vital that both staff and students have a stronger understanding of their purpose and value. Thus, in addition to improving the delivery of lectures and better integrating them with other teaching methods, universities face the challenge to more effectively articulate the role of lectures in the curriculum. A stronger statement about the benefits of lectures for both staff and students is needed to ensure they are viewed as having a pedagogical value.

Authors: Sarah French and Gregor Kennedy

Published: 2015

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