One of the most divisive discussions in education today is the role of an instructor in the classroom. For hundreds of years, teachers have plied the boards at the front of a class, sharing knowledge to students whose minds are often far, far away from the subject at hand.
Many who support lecture as the main method of instruction feel that pthe resentation of the material in a format that is entertaining or engaging is the key to its overall effectiveness in engaging students and promoting learning. However, U.S.-based psychologists have recently completed a study published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review that question the effectiveness of presentation style. In the study, they found little difference in how a lecture is presented and how much actual material was learned by the students. The study had two groups of students site through the same lecture presented in radically different styles. They were then surveyed. The students expressed their belief that they learned more in the lecture that was more of a performance but when they were tested on the lecture topic, there was little difference in the retention of material delivered in either a traditional or more dynamic lecture format.
So what does make a difference? It is involving students in the learning process. Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Harvard University and an early proponent of active learning techniques, suggests that involving learners in the learning process through questions and activities enhances what they remember.
Read more about Marzur’s ideas and the study on lecture style here.