Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

The Lecture: A Teaching Strategy through the Looking Glass

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

The Lecture: A Teaching Strategy through the Looking Glass

Article excerpt


This paper explores the viability of the lecture as a teaching strategy for large groups in light of the various elements that influence the choice of method for teaching large groups. The method employed in this paper draws on the Brunswick Lens Model and Foucauldian discourse to evaluate the dominant pedagogical perspective of the past to translate the perspective into the current view of the lecture as a teaching strategy within the context of current practice. Consideration is given to issues about the future of the lecture. The literature suggests that research and debate regarding the role of the lecture in the learning process has been minimal and mixed. Historically, the changes that have occurred in the lecture format are the result of new technologies applied to the presentation process rather than the content. The evolution of a discerning/sophisticated audience (students) has given rise to technological advances in the classroom and lecture theatre. Technology in its many guises, such as the creation of cyberspace, has motivated the development of alternative approaches both to the traditional lecture as a strategy and to its parameters.

Keywords: lecture; teaching strategy; technologies.


"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are!" --Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Issues and problems regarding the use and value of the lecture as a teaching strategy in the university or academy, continue to surface from time to time, without any apparent resolution. The pedagogical value of the lecture continues to be questioned, more specifically whether students gain knowledge, or learn sufficiently from the lecture (Ardalan, 2008; Doran & Golan, 1998; Mazoue, 1999). Indeed in some subjects and courses, the lecture is often intended to be supported by tutorials, workshops and computer laboratories. It may be the case that they are mutually dependent activities. If the lecture is a 'large group delivery vehicle', then so are these supporting activities which have also grown in size, proportionally, (UA Student to Teacher ratios 1990-2006), but for the most part generally remain in the vicinity of twenty students per tutorial. Some subjects/courses also employ course management (e-Learning) systems, such as WebCT and BlackBoard, to support the lecture as a teaching strategy and as learning process overall. Additionally, the growing importance of computer technologies has, among other things, resulted in the adoption of computer laboratory time allocated for specific tasks in specific subjects/courses (Bongey, Cizadlo & Kalnbach, 2005). Nevertheless, the lecture has, for the most part, remained the dominant teaching strategy adopted for delivering course material to large groups of students.

A large group has been defined as a class consisting of over 100 students (Mataeo & Fernandez, 1996; Toby, 1988). The growing demand for university places as highlighted in the Bradley Review of Higher Education in Australia (2008) has had a number of flow-on effects with respect to staff workloads and the demand for resources within the university sector as addressed in the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (the council of Australia's university presidents) recommendations for the 2005 Australian Federal Budget (2004). The scarcity of resources in turn has lead the university sector to seek and implement alternative methods of delivering courses that will accommodate the greatest number of students at the lowest cost. This has lead to a diversity of new methods of teaching that employ new technologies such as television broadcasting, narrowcasting, Edustream, MP3s, and Clickers (Masikunis, Panayiotidis & Burke, 2009). Even the mobile phone can be used for Twitter, standard SMS messaging or multiple-choice quizzes. However, the most aggressive changes have occurred in the use of the internet not just to support teaching but rather to add a new dimension to the concept of long-distance education the on-line learning environment (Lake, 1999; Mazoue, 1999). …

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