On college campuses right now, the talk is all about antiracism, equity and inclusion. These are good conversations, and long overdue. But to actually achieve these goals, one of the most effective actions will be for professors to stop talking so much -- at least in their classrooms.
For almost a millennium, the gold standard in college teaching has been a well-organized lecture, preferably delivered with dramatic flair or sprinkled with witticisms and anecdotes, delivered by a highly respected domain expert. Professors who read their own text or spoke extemporaneously from notes were a major advance from medieval norms, when instructors simply read aloud from books -- although some contemporary faculty give that tradition a modern twist by reading aloud from PowerPoint slides.
Unfortunately, the data backing the use of lecture have almost always devolved to personal empiricism: “It worked for me.”
An observation like that might be convincing, except that faculty members aren’t representative of today’s learners, and data show that what worked for them does not work for the vast majority of their students. In fact, recent evidence indicates that lecturing actively harms underrepresented minority and low-income students. But alternative teaching methods can give these students a disproportionate boost.
Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed.