News / USA

College Lecture Classes Need Overhaul

Study finds interaction is the key to learning

New research finds that  when instructors switch to a more interactive teaching approach, students in large lecture classes learn more.
New research finds that when instructors switch to a more interactive teaching approach, students in large lecture classes learn more.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

Students learn more, attend class at higher rates and are more engaged in their education when teachers take a more interactive approach in the classroom, according to a new study.

Researchers focused on two large introductory physics classes at the University of British Columbia in Canada which had more than 250 students in each section. Both classes were held in a theater-style room with fixed seats.

For one week, the control group was taught in the traditional lecture style by a well-rated, experienced instructor. However, in the experimental group, the more inexperienced instructor did not lecture. Instead, students were divided into groups of two or three to discuss and answer a series of questions, projected on a large screen.

This interactive approach was developed by the study co-author, Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, who is currently associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“There was a great deal of careful data collected showing how identical the two sections, these two large sections of the class were beforehand," Wieman says. "And this focused very much on looking at exactly what could be learned with the different methods from the classroom experience, the time when you have the maximum student-instructor - or face to face - interaction time.”

University of British Columbia post-doctoral fellow Louis Deslauriers, one of the study’s co-authors, was an instructor in the experimental class. He and doctoral student Ellen Schelew directed questions, listened to student discussions, recorded results and delivered feedback to individuals and the group.“As an instructor you really have to be on your toes,” he says.

Schelew says the method encourages students to think like scientists. She says they learn to make and test predictions, solve problems and reason critically.

“Their brains are turned on. They’re thinking hard and they’re really working through these problems. So even if they don’t have enough time to complete a given problem, they are prepared to learn from the instructor feedback that always follows groups’ tasks.”

In a test of the material immediately following the experiment, students in the interactive class scored twice as high as those in the control section. Other data showed that they were more engaged in learning. A survey given to the experimental group afterward found 90 percent of students liked the interactive style.

The study results reinforce research showing that traditional, passive lecture formats are not the most effective way to teach large classes. Co-author Carl Wieman, on leave from his post as director of Science Education Initiatives at the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado, says teaching methods need to change. “That’s what this study shows is that there’s a lot better way to do things and faculty ought to be switching over.”

Wieman notes that 55 courses at the University of Colorado have already made the switch. He’s hoping that many more colleges take up the initiative that can energize teaching and learning.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid