Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Death of the Lecture?

A New Year's Day story by American Public Media focuses on the disappearance of the lecture as a teaching tool in physics.  Reporter Emily Hanford specifically quotes physics education innovators Eric Mazur and  Joe Redish (whose wife is one of my mentors).  

They talk about the end of the lecture and the rise of the interactive classroom, which promotes discussion, discovery, and clarification as key elements of teaching.  In some cases, they advocate for recorded lectures to clearly and effectively communicate concepts. 

Some people see this as the death of the lecture.  

I'm not sure I'd be so quick to rush to that conclusion.

Such classrooms are as driven by instructors as the all-talk classroom.  What differentiates these classrooms, however, is that the instructors share the podium with their students and engage them in conversations and inquiry with one another during the class lesson.

More fundamentally, these instructors seem to go to the inconvenience of planning their lessons and investing considerable thought about not only what they want to cover (which seems to be the traditional approach) but how, and seem similarly concerned about which techniques ultimately result in the highest level of retention among their students.  

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