Lectures are not effective for fostering higher level thinking. While the default in many educational settings is a lecture, it's not a good approach. Dr. Karl Kapp explains why lectures are an ineffective approach for cultivating critical thinking or problem-solving. Learn why you should keep your lecturing to a minimum.
- Lectures, it turns out, are not the most effective method for conveying knowledge beyond the most basic level. Sure, lectures work well for teaching facts, but beyond facts, lectures break down. And if we really wanna create critical thinkers and learners who can problem solve, we've got to teach beyond mere facts. I'm not saying never do lectures, but I am saying, you should probably decrease the amount of lecturing. Research shows that lectures are not effective for fostering higher level thinking.
In fact, one study found 67% of students thoughts during a lecture were either related to simple comprehension of the subject, passive thoughts about the subject, or even irrelevant thoughts. The study also indicated that during lectures, the learners' thoughts involved attempting to find solutions to problems or synthesize the subject matter only 1% of the time. In a study of 225 studies of meta-analysis, it was found that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand and deliver lectures were 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use active learning techniques.
The bottom line is that lectures are not an effective way of teaching if the aim is to teach thinking or to change attitudes or solve problems, or any other higher goals beyond the simple transmission of factual information. And we need to be teaching beyond factual information because facts can now be easily looked up and accessed. They don't require rote memorization anymore. If you want your company to innovate, or if you wanna foster creativity, or problem solving in your students, then you can't simply lecture, you need to do more.
Lectures do little to promote collaboration, do little to create a learning community, and do little to encourage exploration beyond the classroom or online experience. They don't foster higher level learning. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Wait a minute, my professors lectured me. "All I had was lectures in college "and I turned out fine, lectures work." But stop and think for a minute. Did the lectures work for you or did you create flashcards on your own? Did you form study groups with other students? Did you quiz yourself on the material covered in class? Did you discuss it with your peers and draw diagrams to help you organize the information? I'll bet you did.
You, most likely, created your own active learning environment, otherwise, you wouldn't have gotten to the level you are today. You would not be teaching at a college level course, or facilitating a corporate training session if you weren't able to create and implement your own active learning techniques. But the problem is, you are among the few. Not many people are able to create their own active learning experiences. While you have thrived, others struggled, not because they're dumb, but because they only had lectures and didn't know any active learning techniques.
As an instructor, professor, or corporate trainer, you wanna give your students the best possible chance for success. To do so, you need to move away from lectures. This doesn't mean you should never lecture, but if your educational delivery is 100% lecture, you need to change. So now's the time to think about your teaching practices and how you can tip the scales away from lecturing, toward interactivity.
- Understanding the value of engaged learners
- Using index cards and flip charts
- Role playing
- Asking learners to give presentations
- Using blogs, wikis, and other collaborative tools