I’ve had some nagging concerns about PowerPoint for some time now. I should be upfront and admit to not using it; when I taught or currently in my presentations. Perhaps that clouds my objectivity. But my worries resurfaced after reading an article in the current issue of Teaching Sociology. I’ll use this post to raise some questions and concerns about the role of PowerPoint both in the classroom and in student learning experiences.
Have you ever heard of Eric Mazur? If you teach physics and are into that discipline’s pedagogical literature, in all likelihood you have. But Mazur, who teaches physics at Harvard, is someone all of us should know. The reference at the end of the post contains a succinct and compelling introduction to his work.
As educators, we share the challenge of how to teach an overwhelming amount of content in a short period of time to a sometimes motivated but often bored and listless student population. I do believe that most students enter higher education with a true desire to master their subject area. Some are even interested in learning for the sake of learning. But lectures overloaded with PowerPoint slides quickly change the motivation to extrinsic. This is especially true in fields where high-stakes testing determines future career options.
When I heard a teacher tell me that they were creating recorded lectures for courses as homework assignments and spending classroom time on discussions and more active learning, I knew right then the value of the lecture capture tools.
“Hybrid education” has become a hot catchphrase recently as faculty blend face-to-face learning with online technology. But the growth of hybrid education has been steered by the unstated assumption that hybrid technology should be used to facilitate discussion outside of the classroom, while classroom time should be spent lecturing.
Have you heard that advice about chunking content in 10- to 15-minute blocks because that’s about as long as students can attend to material in class? It’s a widely touted statistic and given the behaviors indicative of inattentiveness observed in class, most faculty haven’t questioned it. But Karen Wilson and James H. Korn did. They got to wondering how researchers made that determination. “What was the dependent measure, and how did researchers measure attention during a lecture without influencing the lecture itself as well as students’ attention?”
Starting a lecture can be challenging: getting everyone seated, attentive, and ready to move forward with the content can take several minutes. I have found that sometimes it feels abrupt and disjointed, especially when it has been a week since the last class meeting, so I’ve been working on strategies that help me get a
Most teachers work to add interest to lecture material in an attempt to gain student attention. If they aren’t attending, they aren’t listening, and if they aren’t listening, it’s pretty hard to imagine them learning anything from a lecture. But is there a point at which the interesting details are more arresting than the content? And if that’s so, do those kinds of details get in the way of attempts to learn and apply content?
Starting a lecture can be a challenge: getting everyone seated, attentive, and ready to move forward with the content can take several minutes. I have found that sometimes it feels abrupt and disjointed, especially when it has been a week since the last class meeting, so I’ve been working on strategies that help me get
“Is The Teaching Professor anti-lecture?” the sharply worded e-mail queried. “No, we aren’t,” I replied, “We’re anti poor lectures … just like we’re against group work that doesn’t work and any other instructional approach poorly executed.”
But the note did remind me that we haven’t provided much on lectures recently, and in all the classrooms I visited this semester, lectures were certainly alive and well (although some were not very healthy). My search for current resources uncovered the article referenced below, which identifies 10 “worthwhile considerations” that should be addressed by those who lecture. The author teaches in a science area and pulls examples from that content.