Lasting Lectures

Research consistently shows how a focus on students and learning is better than focusing on instructors and teaching.

Here is an opinion piece from the New York Times on how learning is improved by a more engaged teaching style. The impact is true overall, but it’s more pronounced for women and minorities.

What has always surprised me is how much students seem to prefer the passive lecture, especially when they are permitted to take notes on their computers–where “taking notes” also means chatting, shopping, and checking game scores. The classroom might be active and even happy, but there’s not a lot of learning going on.

If you’re an instructor who likes to lecture, keep it up. (Here’s a nice essay on how to improve a lecture.) There is nothing better than a thoughtful and dynamic lecture. But think about what you can add to help your students remember what you are saying, even if it’s something as simple as a pre- or post-class low-stakes quiz.

And if you are a student, you should seek out professors who ask you to be an active participant in class. They know what they are doing.