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College Students' Perceptions of the Traditional Lecture Method.

Published on Mar 1, 2011in College student journal
Amy E. Covill1
Estimated H-index: 1
Abstract
Fifty-one college students responded to survey questions regarding their perceptions of the traditional lecture method of instruction that they received in a 200-level psychology course. At a time when many professors are being encouraged to use active learning methods instead of lectures, it is important to consider the students' perspective. Do students have the kind of negative perceptions of the lecture method held by many educators? Results suggest that students' perceptions contrast with educators' beliefs. Students in a lecture-style class report learning a great deal, being involved in the learning process, and engaging in independent thinking and problem solving. Introduction Many educators believe that the traditional lecture approach to teaching is ineffective compared to active learning methods (Marbach-Ad, Seal, & Sokolove, 2001; Jungst, Licklider, & Wiersema, 2003). Methods that promote active learning by students are based on the constructivist view that, for meaningful learning to occur, students must actively engage with the to-be-learned subject-matter through such activities as discussion, hands-on activities, and problem solving. According to proponents of the use of active learning methods, one main weakness of the lecture method is that it allows students to be passive recipients of information that has been "predigested" by the professor (Hansen & Stephens, 2000, p. 42). Thus, students become dependent on the professor to tell them what they need to know and can avoid taking responsibility for their own learning (Machemer & Crawford, 2007). Further, students accustomed to being passive have a "low tolerance for challenge" (Hansen & Stephens, 2000, p. 46). Finally, according to active learning activists, learning as a result of lectures is relatively superficial and transient (Phipps, Phipps, Kask, & Higgens, 2001; Moust, Van Berkel, & Schmidt, 2005). Thus, teachers, including college professors, are chastised for clinging to traditional lecture approaches and are simply told to adopt approaches that make students responsible for their own learning through discussion, problem solving, and discovery. Usually, this recommendation is made without qualification: that is, teaching for active learning is presented as the best approach regardless of class size, subject matter, characteristics of the learners involved, and the culture of the learning institution. The recommendation to use active methods is made even though research is mixed as to the effectiveness of these methods. Some research suggests that, compared to the lecture method, methods that promote active learning increase student achievement (O' Sullivan & Copper, 2003; Christianson & Fisher, 1999), student participation (McClanahan & McClanahan, 2002), and retention of concepts over time (Berry, 2008). Other research indicates that the lecture method is superior (Struyven, Dochy, & Janssens, 2008), or at least comparable (Van Dijk, Van Den Berg, & Van Keulen, 2001), based on several assessments, including student learning. It may be that the lecture method is effective for teachers who lecture well, and active methods are effective for teachers who are adept at developing meaningful in-class activities. For example, some researchers caution that for active methods to be effective, teachers must provide significant guidance and structure: students left to their own explorations of a subject matter with minimal guidance from the teacher do not learn much (Mayer, 2004; Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). While researchers continue to explore the relative merits of lectures versus active learning methods, many educators continue to view active learning as superior to lecturing. The purpose of the present study is to better understand students' perceptions of the lecture approach. Do students view the lecture approach as allowing them to be passive, unengaged, unchallenged, and dependent on the teacher? …
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Cited By31
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#1Eleanor J. Dommett ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 12
#2Benjamin Gardner ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 31
Last.Wijnand A.P. van Tilburg ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 13
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#1Eleanor J. Dommett ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 12
#2Wijnand A.P. van Tilburg ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 13
Last.Benjamin Gardner ('KCL': King's College London)H-Index: 31
view all 3 authors...
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#1Alastair Irons (University of Sunderland)H-Index: 8
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#1Ashley B. Heim (UNC: University of Northern Colorado)H-Index: 1
#2Emily A. Holt (UNC: University of Northern Colorado)H-Index: 7
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#1Paul Sendziuk (University of Adelaide)H-Index: 5
#2Thomas C. Buchanan (University of Adelaide)H-Index: 3
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#1Kathy Lund Dean (Gustavus Adolphus College)H-Index: 17
#2Sarah Wright (Cant.: University of Canterbury)H-Index: 10
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#1David HortigüelaH-Index: 1
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#1Kevin R. Meyer (ISU: Illinois State University)H-Index: 7
#2Stephen K. Hunt (ISU: Illinois State University)H-Index: 13
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