Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Re: Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

Some blog followers might be interested in a post of the above title (transmitted to about 30 discussion lists on 16 March 2010) regarding Eric Mazur's http://mazur-www.harvard.edu/ engaging talk "Confessions of a Converted Lecturer" at the University of Maryland on 11 November 2009. (I thank Joan Middendorf of Indiana University for calling my attention to Eric's talk.)

The abstract reads:

“I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly.”

That talk is now on UTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwslBPj8GgI ; and the abstract, slides, and references - sometimes obscured in the UTube talk - are at http://tinyurl.com/ybc53jw as a 4 MB pdf.

As of 16 March 2010, Eric's talk had been viewed by some 12,800 UTube fans!

In contrast, serious articles in the education literature, often read only by the author and a few cloistered academic specialists, usually create tsunamis in educational practice equivalent to those produced by a pebble dropped into the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

For other commentary critical of the passive-student lecture - staple of U.S. higher education - see e.g.:

a. “Scholars at a Lecture” [Hogarth ((1822)];

b. "The Lecture System in Teaching Science" [Morrison (1986)] - a MUST-READ all-time classic!;

c. “Science Lectures: A relic of the past? [Mazur (1996)];

d. "The College Lecture, Long Derided, May Be Fading” [Honan (2002)];

e. "Re: The college lecture may be fading" [Hake (2002)];

f. “Mary Burgan's Defense of Lecturing” [Hake (2007)];

g. "At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard" [Rimer (2009)];

h. "Farewell, Lecture?" [Mazur (2009)].

Yes, I'm aware of the seemingly lecture-friendly:

1. “A time for telling” [Schwartz & Bransford (1998)];

2. “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching” [Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark (2006)].

Regarding Schwartz & Bransford (1998), their abstract ends: ”. . .the results indicate that there is a place for lectures and readings in the classroom IF STUDENTS HAVE SUFFICIENTLY DIFFERENTIATED DOMAIN KNOWLEDGE TO USE THE EXPOSITORY MATERIALS IN A GENERATIVE MANNER.” [My CAPS.]

In response, I wrote inRe: Constructivism in the APB classroom” [Hake (2008a)]:

“But judging from the abysmally low pre-to-post test average normalized gains on tests of conceptual understanding for traditional high-school and college mechanics courses (Hake (1998a,b)], it would appear that the traditional learning strategy given to students by instructors for learning physics . . . . does NOT supply students with 'sufficiently differentiated domain knowledge to use the expository materials in a generative manner' [a loose translation from the psychologize might be: ‘sufficient conceptual understanding to benefit from the lecture.’ “

Regarding Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark (2006), as indicated in "Language Ambiguities in Education Research" [Hake (2008b)], their failure to operationally define pedagogical terms hinders any meaningful interpretation of their paper. Quoting Klahr and Li (2005) “we suggest that those engaged in discussions about implications and applications of educational research should focus on clearly defined instructional methods and procedures, rather than vague labels and outmoded '-isms.' ”

REFERENCES [Tiny URL's courtesy http://tinyurl.com/create.php.]

Hake, R.R. 1998a. “Interactive-engagement vs traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses,” Am. J. Phys. 66: 64-74; online at http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi/ajpv3i.pdf (84 kB).

Hake, R.R. 1998b. “Interactive-engagement methods in introductory mechanics courses,” online at http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi/IEM-2b.pdf (108 kB). A crucial companion paper to Hake (1998a).

Hake, R.R. 2002. "Re: The college lecture may be fading," online on the OPEN! POD archives at http://tinyurl.com/y8kddm6 . Post of 21 Aug 2002 15:34:25-0700 to Chemed-L, EvalTalk, Math-Learn, Math-Teach, Phys-L, PhysLrnR, and POD.

Hake, R.R. 2007. “Re: Mary Burgan's Defense of Lecturing,” online on the OPEN! POD archives at http://tinyurl.com/yftrgmt . Post of 20 Feb 2007 15:45:37-0800 to Chemed-L, PhysLrnR, & POD.

Hake, R.R. 2008a. “Re: Constructivism in the APB classroom,” online on the OPEN! AERA-K archives at http://tinyurl.com/yj556qd .

Hake, R.R. 2008b. “Language Ambiguities in Education Research,” submitted to the Journal of Learning Sciences on 21 August 2008 but mindlessly rejected; online at http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake/LangAmbigEdResC.pdf (1.2 MB).

Hogarth, W. 1822. “Scholars at a Lecture,” online at http://www.artoftheprint.com/artistpages/hogarth_william_scholarsatalecture.htm .

Honan, W.H. 2002. "The College Lecture, Long Derided, May Be Fading,” New York Times, August 14, 2002; online at http://tinyurl.com/yjsanjf .

Kirschner, P.A., J. Sweller, & R.E. Clark. 2006. “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching.” Educational Psychologist 41(2): 75-86; online at http://tinyurl.com/3xmp2m (176 kB).

Klahr, D. & J. Li. 2005. “Cognitive Research and Elementary Science Instruction: From the Laboratory, to the Classroom, and Back,” Journal of Science Education and Technology 14(2): 217-238; online as a 536 kB pdf at http://tinyurl.com/2b62uk (536 kB).

Mazur, E. 1996. “Science Lectures: A relic of the past? Physics World 9: 13-14; online at http://mazur-www.harvard.edu/sentFiles/Mazur_22862.pdf (1 MB).

Mazur, E. 2009. "Farewell, Lecture?" Science 323 (5919): 50-51, 2 January; online to subscribers at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/323/5910/50 . Free toall at http://tinyurl.com/sbys4 .

Morrison, R.T. 1986. "The Lecture System in Teaching Science," in Proceedings of the Chicago Conferences on Liberal Education, Number 1, Undergraduate Education in Chemistry and Physics (edited by Marian R. Rice). The College Center for Curricular Thought: The University of Chicago, October 18-19, 1989; online at http://entropysite.oxy.edu/morrison.html, thanks to Gutenberg lecture pioneer Frank Lambert. (The Gutenberg lecture method recognizes the invention of the printing press!)

Rimer, S. 2009. "At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard," New York Times, 12 January; online at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/us/13physics.html?_r=1? (with 74 comments as of 15 March 2010).

Schwartz, D. L. & J. D. Bransford, 1998. "A time for telling," Cognition & Instruction 16(4): 475-522; an abstract is online at http://www.jstor.org/pss/3233709.

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