Friday, July 8, 2011

Re: Lectures

Some blog followers might be interested in a discussion-list post “Re: Lectures” [Hake (2011)].

The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Kenneth Mendelson’s (2011) provocative post “Lectures” initiated a 17-post thread, #14 on the PhySoc archives of June 2011 at Among the responses was that of Kenneth Laws who wrote (paraphrasing):

“. . . one of the most widely quoted quantitative studies on the subject appears to be ‘Interactive-engagement vs traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses’ [Hake (1998a)] at].”

I respond from the perspective of Hake (1998a) to six points made by Mendelsohn, here paraphrased as:

l. “Current thinking on physics teaching tends to be very critical of the use of lectures.”

2. “The main objection seems to be that students cannot learn by simply listening to lectures.”

3. “In the traditional lecture course it is understood that much of the learning takes place outside of class.”

4. “Lectures, along with journal articles, are the media of choice when physicists, including physics teachers, communicate with each other.”

5. “People who claim that lectures are a poor way of teaching would have a better case if they discussed real lecture courses rather than imaginary courses in which the students do nothing but listen to lectures.”

6. “If the officers of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) agree that lecturing is a poor way to communicate they might apply this belief to the organization of AAPT meetings.”

To access the complete 19 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)

“…I point to the following unwelcome truth: much as we might dislike the implications, research is showing that didactic exposition of abstract ideas and lines of reasoning (however engaging and lucid we might try to make them) to passive listeners yields pathetically thin results in learning and understanding - except in the very small percentage of students who are specially gifted in the field.”
Arnold Arons in Teaching Introductory Physics (p. vii, 1997)

REFERENCES [URL's shortened by and accessed on 8 July 2011.]
Arons, A.B. 1997. Teaching Introductory Physics. Wiley. information at Note the searchable “Look Inside” feature.

Hake, R.R. 2011. “Re: Lectures,” on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at . Post of 8 Jul 2011 08:27:45-0700 to PhySoc, AERA-L, and NetGold. The abstract and link to the complete 19 kB post are being transmitted to various discussion lists.

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