Dec 172015

Lecture – Works for the Lecturer, Doesn’t Work for the Students

Did you love watching lectures from your professors?

Online course data show that video lectures are not the best way to learn

Education by the Numbers



Tom’s comments:

Lecture – The problem is MOST traditional educators and most students don’t know how deep adaptive learning occurs (research proven, best practices) and what the most effective and efficient way to learn is.

Since they don’t know and they choose not to access the copious, research proven, best practices information available to improve student success outcomes, they continue with what they are familiar and comfortable with, NOT improving student success outcomes.

Then, they publicly share what they do, under the guise of being an expert, sharing  dis-proven, ineffective, inefficient deep learning methodology, adding confusion to an already confusing dialog.

First one size fits all lecture (and online lecture/teaching) at best offers the “middle” superficial, initial understanding, that is soon forgotten:





This does not empower individual students with the desired, adaptive deep learning, that results in advanced, sustained, individual performance improvement outcomes.

One size fits all teaching (Lecture/Online/Video/PDF/Word Doc/Seminar) provides the LEAST education outcomes for students, but it continues to be used to the detriment of the students. Go figure.

I’ve spent years researching what works and put it all into a free website, but traditional educators are too busy to learn something new, to advance their profession. They think they know it all, but they don’t. Molly’s article is testimonial to this reality within traditional education.





December 14, 2015

Lecture -Earlier this fall, Molly Worthen, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, wrote a persuasive defense of the lecture as an instructional form. Particularly in the humanities, Worthen argued, students need to absorb long, complex arguments. It’s admittedly not easy, but worthwhile for students to learn to concentrate, and synthesize, organize and react as they listen to a professor. Her New York Times opinion column made its way around social media. On my own Facebook feed, friends posted memories of their favorite lecturing professors. Personally, I am a big fan of lectures and am grateful when someone takes the time to explain something to me.

So it was difficult for me to open my mind to fresh data analysis, from Professor Ken Koedinger of Carnegie Mellon University, which adds more weight to the argument that lectures aren’t an effective way to learn, despite our nostalgic memories of enjoying them.

Koedinger didn’t study live lectures, but recorded ones that were part of a free online psychology class produced by the Georgia Institute of Technology. He and a team of four Carnegie Mellon researchers mined the data from almost 28,000 students who took the course over the Coursera platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). They found that video lecturers were the least effective way to learn. Students who primarily learned through watching video lectures did the worst both on the 11 quizzes during the 12-week course and on the final exam. Students who primarily learned through reading, or a combination of reading and video lectures, did a bit better, but not much.

This story also appeared in U.S. News & World Report

The students who did the best were those who clicked on interactive exercises. For example, one exercise asked students to click and drag personality factors to their corresponding psychological traits.  A student would need to drag “neuroticism” to the same line with “calm” and “worrying,” in this case. Hints popped up when a student guessed wrong.

On the weekly quizzes, the “doers” who did nothing but the interactive exercises scored about the same as the “doers” who also did some combination of watching and reading. It almost seems as if you don’t need to watch lectures or read at all.

Thankfully, reading and lecture-watching mattered a bit on the final exam. Again, the “doers” did much better than students who primarily only watched videos or only did the readings. But here the “doers” who also watched or read, or watched and read, boosted their final exam scores.

“People have such strong intuitions about their verbal learning experiences: ‘I learn from listening to a lecture,’ ” said Koedinger. “It sure feels that way. But in fact lectures do very little to change your brain.”

“We have all kinds of assumptions about what works in learning and education,” he added. “But what we find out, not just in this field, but in almost every field, is that when you put those assumptions to the test, they’re more often wrong than right.”

Of course, there’s a long history, dating back to the 1800s, of education experts arguing that active hands-on learning is the best way to learn. But education technology is now making it more efficient to test these theories. Instead of surveying students on what they think they did, computers can now record every mouse click and calculate how often a student actually read a passage, watched a video or completed an interactive exercise.

And new data analysis techniques are allowing researchers to conclude that active learning not only is associated with higher learning outcomes, but actually causes students to learn more. In this case, Koedinger was able to control for students’ backgrounds and what they knew before they started the class, to isolate what students actually learned during the course.  Koedinger presented his findings in a paper, “Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing is Better than Watching for Learning from a MOOC,” earlier this year at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Learning at Scale conference in Vancouver.

Koedinger and his team further tested whether their theory that “learning by doing” is better than lectures and reading in other subjects. Unfortunately, the data on video watching were incomplete. But they were able to determine across four different courses in computer science, biology, statistics and psychology that active exercises were six times more effective than reading. In one class, the active exercises were 16 times more effective than reading. (Koedinger is currently drafting a paper on these results to present at a conference in 2016.)

Read the rest of the Article

Read Molly’s original post


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