Why University Lectures Don’t Work

Why University Lectures Don't Work

Why University Lectures Don't Work

Ever had a three hour lecture in school? Then you know that after about an hour, your mind’s already someplace else, counting down ’til halfway … one more hour … and then finally fifteen minutes left. And during that last fifteen minutes, you’re already packed up and ready to go, preoccupied with what adventures you’ll pursue once you’re free. Time’s up, you leave, and you’ve remembered nothing from that lecture.

And it’s not your fault — traditional lectures just don’t work. In fact, undergrads are 1.5 times more likely to fail when they’re just being lectured at. Let me tell you why:

1. They’re boring

Plain and simple: they’re boring. Lectures go in one ear and out the other. They’re uninteresting, and as a result, no one wants to be there. During lecture, you’re just sort of being talked at by someone you don’t know, about something you don’t really care about. You’re stuck in the same seat for hours and there’s just so much more you can be doing outside or someplace else.

If lectures aren’t interesting, people aren’t going to care (they’ll nap). They don’t listen, and they don’t learn.

2. People have different learning styles

Lecturing is only one type of teaching and only reaches to some kinds of learners. Some people learn by doing things hands-on, which just isn’t realistic in a lecture setting. And I think there’s something to be said about the whole bunch of auditory learners who still don’t like lectures.

Why University Lectures Don't Work

The point is lectures are only one style, and they can’t teach everyone because everyone is different.

3. You don’t get to actively think

Listening to someone lecture is a very passive form of learning. You’re passively taking everything in as it comes, without synthesizing new ideas. Since they’re not your ideas, you have a harder time remembering them.

They don’t challenge us to actively assert our thinking prowess (like, say, Pokemon does, let’s be real). Interactive learning, like asking and answering questions, clicker quizzes, and discussion are active learning. Just listening to someone speak is the least effective way of learning (whereas teaching is the most effective). And if you’re not actively thinking, most likely you’re zoning out.

4. They’re too long

You start reading the Facebook chat on the laptop of the girl in front of you. You look for the buzzing fly. Texting. Playing (God forbid) Candy Crush. It’s just been too long. Your butt hurts. You’re hungry (or you just want to eat ’cause you’re unhappy and bored). The struggle is real.

Why University Lectures Don't Work

The average lecture is about 2 hours. But our attention spans are not that long. In the age of the internet, when we have so many different things vying for our attentions, we jump from one thing to another in a second, and lose interest quickly. Besides, in such a long lecture, even if the first hour you’re diligently listening and taking notes, after a while, your brain gets tired (of being bored). It’s been proven that we need breaks in order to stay focussed.

5. Some lecturers don’t know how to lecture

Yeah, I said it. How many times have you complained about a prof? Or blamed a prof’s lousy lecturing for your failing grade? Well the fact is that some profs are just not good at giving lectures, just as some students are not great at learning from lectures. Whether it’s because they’re amazingly monotone (which some most definitely are) or they unfortunately have an accent that makes them hard to understand, learning in a lecture where the prof is bad at speaking is a mission.Why University Lectures Don't Work

 Tell us:

[quote_center]How do you feel about the traditional lecturing style?[/quote_center]



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  1. I think the motivation is internal, independent of the speaker. Often students are forced to attend lectures. These are subjects that do not interest them, even if the lecturers are good.
    It is true that lecturers should speak little, on average 50 minutes. They should use many images and practical examples. This makes the talk more interesting.


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