Today, there are many teaching methods at our disposal. Educational innovations and research continue to provide new approaches to teaching and new strategies to help students learn. While robust evidence exists for the efficacy of alternative pedagogies, the lecture continues to be the preferred classroom method for many teachers.
There are several purposes for which the lecture is well suited:
- Presenting information otherwise unavailable to students. The lecture is a perfect way to share your personal research and inquiry trends of your discipline
- Synthesizing information from a variety of sources. In addition to reading scholarly work, a lecture can explicitly demonstrate how knowledge is created by many researchers working on different aspects of a problem or topic.
- Engaging students through storytelling. Sharing a personal experience, a researcher’s journey, or how the “sticky” problems are addressed in your discipline can pique curiosity and bolster students’ intrinsic motivation.
- Providing context. Conveying how course content relates to other areas or how it is relevant to students’ experiences clarifies why content is worth learning. This is especially critical for novices in a field.
- Presenting up-to-date material. A lecture can effectively inform students of evolving knowledge and points of view while text-books become outdated quickly.
- Modeling thought processes. A good lecture makes transparent the ways of thinking/habits of mind of the disciplinary expert. It can model:
- How problems are approached
- How information is organized and synthesized
- The logic structures and frameworks commonly used in the field
- How new knowledge can be integrated with what one learned previously
- Clarifying confusing concepts, principles, and ideas. When a lecture is given in response to questions from students, or after quiz/test results reveal misconceptions, lecture can be a powerful way of improving student comprehension, especially if the lecture is interactive.