An article appearing in January’s University Affairs indicated that students prefer a good lecture over technology in the classroom. The article states ‘university students prefer the “old school” approach of an engaging lecture over the use of the latest technological bells and whistles in the classroom’.
I have not read the full report of the survey but would like to comment on the article. The survey of 15, 000 students and 2, 500 instructors across Quebec (with 10% and 20% responding respectively) indicated a preference for lecture over technology in the classroom but does not mention learning outcomes. Statements like this alarm me. Most instructors know that student preference does not equate with learning outcomes. However some instructors may not and published results such as the University Affairs’ article may lead to increased lecturing and less engagement through student interaction.
If I recall correctly from my early teaching days, if students hear the content they remember some; if they hear and see, the retention is better; and if they hear, see and engage through interaction, the learning process improves considerably. Interaction takes work. Think of when you were at a conference and asked to discuss a question with the person beside you. Usually my first thought is do I have to? But once engaged in the conversation, in most cases, I come away with more.
My second concern with the article is that not all instructors offer engaging or good lectures. This survey’s result may lead to more instructors just lecturing; lectures that may not be engaging. Yet I am hopeful that students and instructor focus on the word good lecture with the result that instructors start the learning process with good lectures leading to student engagement.