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More Lectures, Please

Most students I know think lectures are of very limited value. They often express the idea–quite reasonable–that they could learn as much just by reading the material in the lecture carefully on their own, or reviewing the teacher’s Powerpoint presentation.

While sensible, this runs counter to all my (limited) experience as a lecturer. Students who regularly come to class do better. Maybe it’s just that non-attending students tend to lack the discipline to study on their own. My own personal experience agrees: as many times as I have sat through classes thinking, “I’m getting nothing out of this,” almost everything of significance I have learned has been through structured classroom instruction.

So I wasn’t surprised at this:

Do more lectures improve student performance? Yes, finds a new experimental study, but the authors interpret the effects as modest in size.  One group of students in introductory microeconomics got a lecture twice a week (what the authors call the “traditional” format), and the other group of students got a lecture only once a week. 

I know the study is looking at lecture frequency, not the effects of regular attendance. Still it seems to show the importance of this often-maligned and usually disliked teaching method. 

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