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Maria shares some ideas to help you determine when and when not to use lecture as the best strategy for meeting your teaching goals for a class session.
Welcome to this episode of “Teaching and Learning Matters.” I’m Maria Yon, faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
This session is meant to help you determine whether lecture is the best strategy for meeting your teaching goal. So let’s get started.
What makes an effective lecture? Does your teaching style lend itself to giving good lectures? Are your students getting the most out of the class session during lecture? These are some important questions to answer.
But probably the first question is to decide when to lecture and when not to lecture. For centuries, the lecture has been the main teaching tool in higher education. Sometimes it is the most effective and efficient option and sometimes it isn’t. But, let’s think about when you should use lecture.
Lecture is probably most efficient when you need to motivate students to learn about a topic. Remember that you have a captive audience and not all of them are interested in the subject or the specific topic, so you need to raise their curiosity. Through relevant examples, by showing your personal interest, and by using an expressive style, you can engage students’ interest right from the beginning with a lecture.
Another reason to use lecture is to give background information or additional information that is not available in their readings. In today’s high-tech world, it may not be unusual for information in textbooks to be outdated even before they get into the students’ hands.
It may also be biased and you need to present your personal viewpoint or the viewpoint of others. You may want to add your own related research. That might be a way to pique students’ interest about the topic.
Sometimes our purpose is for students to use a particular problem-solving approach or a style of thinking. A good way for them to know how to do this is to model that kind of thinking for them. We lecture so that they can “see” the thinking going on in our heads. For example, if we want students to evaluate a piece of art, we might model our own thought process. And we can do that using a lecture – a demonstration lecture.
A final reason we might lecture is when we need to help students understand sophisticated or theoretical material. We use lecture to adapt it to their levels and needs. We translate it in words they understand and use clarifying examples and analogies. Sometimes textbooks are not well-organized and we must clarify and organize the readings in a way that they can understand the information.
Now just briefly, when do we not lecture? Don’t use lecture if your teaching style does not lend itself to an expressive style. Don’t use lecture for any of the following reasons - if your purpose is to explore controversial or ambiguous material with an open mind, if you’re trying to examine or change their attitudes about a topic, if you want students to be able to apply the content to a new situation, or if you want students to remember particular information for months or years to come.
I hope that this has been a helpful guide in helping you determine your first question about which teaching approach to use—Should I lecture or not for this class session?
Thanks for listening. Tune in again for more “Teaching and Learning Matters.”
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