Lectures aren’t a suitable method for teaching college students

In Opinion
An empty classrom
Lectures aren't engaging for many students because they aren't able to learn all the material. (Bailey Carpenter / Daily Titan File Photo)

All it takes is a restless night and a semi-dim classroom to fall asleep to a professor who’s droning on and on in an 75-minute lecture. For some, it may take even less time.

Lectures are a common feature of Cal State Fullerton courses, but they are old-fashioned and useless. If the point of college is to try and obtain a degree for a career, then students need to be able to learn through a more interactive and engaging method of teaching.

Students can’t possibly memorize or pay attention to an hour of someone describing three hundred years of history or comprehend the impact of the Krebs cycle in cellular respiration.

Even the most passionate and exciting speaker can only hold the attention of students for about 10 to 18 minutes, according to Salman Khan, creator of an online educational organization called Khan Academy, in an interview with NPR.

Anyone who has sat down during a lecture knows the feeling of absolute dread when checking the time and seeing that only 15 minutes have passed. Sure, doodles or staring contests with the clock make the time go by faster, but by then the full course period isn’t being used the way it should be.

Instead, people only get a decent understanding of the first part of the lecture, failing to grasp the minute details or invoke large concepts in real-life situations.

Students in traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail their class, according to a 2014 study published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Getting an A+ in every class isn’t going to happen for most college students, but they should at least be able to understand the topic enough to pass a course. If a sizable group is failing, then evidently the information isn’t sticking and something needs to change.

Courses are meant to prepare students, not bore them to death.

Solely listening to a professor’s lecture isn’t how every student learns best. In fact, only 30 percent of people are auditory learners, according to a 2014 study from the Current Health Sciences Journal.

Students learn more effectively through interactive techniques like discussions, questions and hands-on activities. While CSUF may offer some discussion courses, long lectures may still find their way into the class period.

Rather than regurgitating the past half hour of class through memorization, students should be be given a chance to think critically about the material.

Classes don’t have to be the slowest 75 minutes of the entire day. Unproductive and boring classes can become engaging if professors are willing to change their mindset and take a more active approach to teaching.

It definitely won’t be easy, and for auditoriums with more than 100 students, participation from everyone is unlikely. But there are still ways for professors to take the dullest material and make it relevant and interesting.

The wonderful creation of the internet can turn any stifling lecture into an interactive exercise. By using apps like Socrative, professors can give students online quizzes during lectures. This can be incredibly helpful in solidifying new concepts and sifting through large amounts of information.

CSUF professors should rethink their next lesson plan if it involves an entire class period of dense information and zero interaction, because in the end all it’s going to do is drive students to a nice, peaceful sleep.

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