'Lectures' photo (c) 2013, AJ Cann - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There has been a fair amount of recent research documenting the ineffectiveness of lectures as an instructional strategy. I thought I’d bring articles about the research together in one place.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

Let me know what I’m missing here:

A study was just announced a couple of years ago claiming — surprise, surprise — that integrating pair work and small groups in teaching is more effective than straight lectures. Science Daily reported it in an article titled Interactive Teaching Methods Double Learning in Undergraduate Physics Class. The study’s author’s also seem to make a big deal of using “clickers” for student response, but when I actually read the study they said they only used them an average of 1.5 times each class, so it’s difficult for me to imagine they had that big of an impact. Based on my reading, though, the big difference seemed to be pair and small group work. You can access the study here, but it does cost fifteen dollars. Surprisingly — at least to me — the study was immediately attacked by a many other scientists, including Daniel Willingham, in a New York Times article. I don’t really understand what the big deal is — tons of other studies have shown similar results over the years.

Thanks to a post at The Engineer’s Pulse, I learned about Harvard Professor Eric Mazur. He’s done a lot of work — perhaps it could be called teacher action research — on the advantages of peer work over lecturing as an effective instructional tool. You can read more about his work at a Harvard Magazine article titled Twilight of the Lecture. I’ve also embedded below a talk by him about his work.

Improve grades, reduce failure: Undergrads should tell profs ‘don’t lecture me’ is from Science Daily.

Stop Lecturing Me (In College Science)! is from Scientific American.

Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds is from Science Magazine.

University lectures are ineffective for learning, analysis finds is from The PBS News Hour.

Are Lectures On The Way Out? Harvard Professor Proposes A Better Way To Teach is from Boston’s NPR station.

Big Surprise — NOT!: Study Says Students Are More Successful With “Active Learning” Than With Lectures

Quote Of The Day: “To Raise Science Scores, Colleges Look Beyond the Lecture”

The Lecture is by Grant Wiggins.

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

Professor Likes To Lecture, So Writes NY Times Column Saying Everybody Else Should, Too

Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman talks about active learning in this video. You can read the contribution he made to my Education Week Teacher column at A Nobel Laureate Writes About Becoming A “Science Coach.”:

Shocker – NOT: New Study Finds That Lectures Are Not Best Instructional Strategy

Quote Of The Day: The Value Of Listening To Students

Study Finds Lecturing Not Best Way To Teach – Shocking (NOT!)

Nice Critique Of Lectures



A Lesson in Active Learning is from Character Lab.

Georgios Zonnios has written two good posts about research on “discovery learning”: Misleading Research on Discovery Learning and Discovery Learning Experiments.

No Surprise – Another Study Finds “Active Learning” Is More Effective Than Lectures

LEARNING BY DOING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW is from The Learning Agency Lab.

You can see all 1,300 “The Best” lists here.