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Why Use Interactive Lectures?

Cam Davidson's Geo 110 Lecture at Carleton College

Lecturing, a time-honored teaching technique, offers an efficient method to present information to a large number of students but may result in students who listen passively. Making lectures interactive by including interactive techniques such as think-pair-share, demonstrations, and role playing, can:

Rather than having only individual students answer questions when called on, interactive techniques allow all students to participate. Research has shown that this engagement leads to deeper learning and retention.

Interactive Lectures Promote Deep Learning

Looking at students' reading strategies, Marton and Saljo (1976) identified deep and surface approaches to learning. They discovered that students preparing for a test take two different approaches: (1) deep learners read for overall understanding and meaning; (2) surface learners focus on stand-alone, disconnected facts and rote memorization. Deep learning leads to a genuine understanding that promotes long-term retention of the learned material and as important, the ability to retrieve it and apply it to new problems in unfamiliar concepts. Surface learning, on the other hand, focuses on the uncritical acceptance of knowledge with an emphasis on memorization of unquestioned, unrelated facts. Retention is fleeting and there is little long-term retention and less.

Leammson (2002) notes: "What is often called 'deep learning,' the kind that demands both understanding and remembering of relationships, causes, effects and implications for new or different situations simply cannot be made easy. Such learning depends on students actually restructuring their brains and that demands effort," (p.7). Incorporating activities into lectures is one way to get students to start making that effort and research shows it pays off. For example:

Interactive Lectures Fosters Student Engagement

Getting students involved, rather than sitting passively, also increases student interest and student perception of their own learning:

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