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Luke Dills Megan Keaton English 112 25 April 2013 To Talk, to Listen, or to Learn The teaching methods that

are available for schools have always been an important part of education. Whether the style is discussion, lecture, online, or even self-taught, the method of teaching is a major influence in how students both assimilate information and how they view education as a whole. In middle and high schools the lecture method has been the most popular and widely used method for many years. However, many higher education classes use the discussion method to inform students, and professors are still debating which of these two methods are more effective for the students. In this paper the meaning of effectiveness will be mainly in how students perceive the two styles and how efficient they are for knowledge retention. This paper will analyze the lecture and discussion methods of teaching to find both the flaws and weaknesses of both sides and to determine what actions can be taken to make a stronger teaching method. This paper will begin by observing how students perceive the lecture, since how the students approach the teaching methods is very relevant to how students approach their learning environment. First it must be considered that the lecture has been used for many years in the academic community, and thus students are well adjusted to it since most will have been taught by it throughout most of their lives. Additionally, students have learned that if they work hard in a lecture style class they will get good grades, and they also believe that they will receive a long-

term retention of the material (Covill para.19). Both of these factors contribute to students positive outlook upon the lecture. It should also be taken into account that lectures are still evolving from their static forms into more student involved teaching that helps the students learn subject matter (Chaudhury 1819). An example of how this is true is the fact that teachers are now giving their students various worksheets and small groups time, so that the students can fully process and assimilate the material. Teachers are also inputting technology into class rooms so that students can give feedback during lectures. These new attributes that are coinciding with the lecture prove that it is still becoming more effective and that it is still a very relevant teaching style. The lecture also enables students to observe proper problem solving in mathematics. In these types of courses discussion based teaching would be difficult because if students where to try to talk their way through mathematic problems, they very well could confuse themselves and it may even make them make more mistakes in the future due to not being able to remember which step was the correct step. However, this is an issue that can be avoided by using the lecture, for if the teacher is going through it step-by-step with the students carefully following along then the students will be much more likely to develop better mathematics skills. In a study of engineering students, researchers found that the students regarded the lecture as the only form of teaching that would be useful in all of their needed categories (Pritchard 612). Therefore, the lecture still is a necessary method for many classes since there would be no other way to teach some academic material otherwise. However, the lecture method is not without its flaws. First of all, this method is very dependent upon the one who is speaking. If the speaker does not have the proper communication skills the students will not receive the information well. Students could very well sit through

entire classes or even entire courses, and come finish them with no better understanding of the material than when they went in. They may even become more confused and unsure, which needs to be avoided at all costs. Next, the lecture method only efficiently provides instruction to those who learn through hearing the material. It completely alienates those who learn better through visualization and through practice. The teacher lectures to the students, often without the students give hardly any feedback, about something that they may or may not be interested in. If students have a hard time enjoying the material then they are far more likely to misbehave or disengage from the class. However, the discussion method has proven to keep students attention. Jacqueline Watson states, In each school I visited, students generally enjoyed discussion, and young people and children were attentive to each [others] comments and views (101). This shows the fact that discussions are usually enjoyed, and that it also is able to keep peoples attention by using discussions and having the students being actively involved help to keep them more entertained and focused, which inevitably leads to better knowledge retention and long-term application of the information. Although, there will be many constraints if the educational society wants a complete shift in teaching methods. Firstly, they would have to retrain teachers to be able to properly guide conversations so that students stay on topic. They would also have to learn how to progress and transition to each discussion smoothly so that students are not confused about the material or its relevancy. Secondly, the teachers would need to explain why and how the conversations would be helpful to them so that they can fully take advantage of it. Ellis and Calvo state that, If students are not aware of the purpose of the discussions or they have negative perceptions of the learning

context, then they are not likely to benefit from the discussions or perform well in the subject (263). Thirdly, students who are more introverted may find it very difficult to participate and engage in inter-class discussions. It could not be said any clearer than in Watsons essay where she said, While teachers may be concerned about discipline, for many students a significant constraint on discussion is lack of confidence to speak in front of their peers (103). Therefore discussion based teaching, while it may be effective for students who are more active and extraverted, does not inherently assist those whom are less comfortable with speaking within groups. Nevertheless, discussion is an effective way to teach students by having them actively engage and participate in the subject, which helps memory and application. Ellis and Calvo state that, Learning through discussions is a key aspect of the student learning experience in higher education (263). This shows that in higher education discussion has already been proven to help students learn concepts and subject matter. It is also growing, and is constantly being studied and analyzed to determine just how much discussions help students to retain knowledge. Regrettably, not enough research has been done yet to conclusively determine if discussion will work for the long-term benefit of students. Now what if the educational authority decided to institute a new teaching method that would combine both the discussion method and the lecture method? They could take the beneficial attributes of both methods and also remove their weaknesses at the same time. By mixing the two methods there would be a style that effectively teaches to many different learning styles, while not taking away the opportunities to learn from other teaching methods. They are

not taking the opportunities from others since everyone in the class would get to hear, see, and enact out the material. I will give an example of this. In a previous semester I attended a class where the teacher would give a thirty minute lecture about grammar, organization, transitions, and most of the other topics that we would need for academic writing. He would then show the class about a dozen sentences that were filled with errors. We would then have to get into groups of two or three to solve them in groups. This allowed us to talk through the sentences and discuss what we thought was wrong and why we thought they were wrong. After we finished attempting to find the errors the teacher then showed us the mistakes in each problem, and told us where the errors were and why they were errors. This process was great for us since it teaching through all the learning methods. We listened to the lecture, we saw him go through the sentences, and we got to attempt to fix the sentences ourselves. This teaching method has made a big impact on me and has taught me most of the English grammar that I know. The educational authority could start to institute classes such as these by having teachers use this sort of method in high schools. This would be done to better prepare high school students for college. They, the educational authority, should first begin to train and re-train teachers so that they would be more proficient at teaching multiple learning styles and this new teaching format. This would make the teachers much more effective for students, and it would also make them more used to the type of teaching that they might receive in higher education courses.

Works Cited Chaudhury, S. Raj. "The Lecture." New Directions for Teaching & Learning 2011.128 (2011): 13-20. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. Covill, Amy E. "College Students' Perceptions of the Traditional Lecture Method." College Student Journal 45.1 (2011): 92-101. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. Ellis, R. A., and R. A. Calvo. "Learning through Discussions in Blended Environments." Educational Media International 41.3 (2004): 263-274. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. Pritchard, David. "Where Learning Starts? A Framework for Thinking About Lectures in University Mathematics." International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science & Technology 41.5 (2010): 609-623. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. Watson, Jacqueline. "Discussion in Religious Education: Developing Dialogic for Community Cohesion and/or Spiritual Development." International Journal of Children's Spirituality 16.2 (2011): 97-108. ERIC. Web. 5 Mar. 2013.