The lecture method of teaching (e.g., preaching) delivers disappointing results.
The problem isn’t with the competency of the speaker. Even the best lecturers falter when compared with other approaches to teaching and learning.
Research continues to show the weakness of the lecture approach. The latest appeared this month in the journal Science. A Nobel prize-winning physicist compared two nearly identical classes of Canadian college students. One class featured a highly rated veteran professor using time-tested lecturing. The other class was led by inexperienced graduate students using interactive methods.
The students in the interactive class scored almost twice as well as those in the lecture class.
The interactive class involved very little lecture. Instead the instructors used small-group discussion, interactive student clicker devices, demonstrations and question-answer sessions.
“This is clearly more effective learning,” said Carl Wieman, the lead researcher. “Everybody should be doing this. You’re practicing bad teaching if you are not doing this.”
The results of this latest study don’t reveal a new phenomenon. In fact, Wieman said, “Lectures have been equally ineffective for centuries.”
That was true even in Jesus’ time on earth. His ministry was effective not because he stood behind a wooden box and lectured for an hour. Yes, he delivered short stories and ideas. But he supercharged his teaching with interactive elements that involved his participants in memorable and life-changing ways.
So, with all the mounting evidence, why do academia and the church cling so stubbornly to the lecture method?