American Radio Works recently released a thorough reconsideration of the traditional lecture, featuring science professors, among them Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur, who have completely altered their classroom structures, and a school (the University of Minnesota Rochester) that stakes its radical new curriculum on what cognitive science tells us about how people learn. Called “Don’t Lecture Me,” the show is part of American Radio Works’s ongoing series called “Tomorrow’s College.” Those featured aren’t alone in advocating for the end of the lecture as we know it. University of Pennsylvania Professor Al Filreis, whose blog includes the label “the end of the lecture,” has argued that, among other problems, the traditional lecture means that “given what new media enables us to do outside the classroom time and space, we are still using that precious site for set-piece talks (talkings-at) rather than real interaction, which is the mode in which people learn best.” In July, NPR interviewed Don Tapscott, who argues that a collaborative approach to learning should model itself on the multi-tasking that students are already doing all the time. In May, the Huffington Post covered Carl Wieman’s research on the use of interactive clickers in teaching. The result? The focus shifts from the instructor’s charisma to the students’ learning process, and, in the one-week study, students with clickers learned significantly better. “It’s really what’s going on in the students’ minds rather than who is instructing them,” Wieman said. As The Chronicle of Higher Education recently warned, though, too much reliance on clickers for grade-bearing work or attendance-taking, can lead to cheating.
This post was written by Odile Harter.