Study: Lectures remain a steady, but ineffective, element of STEM education
- Approximately 55% of college classrooms throughout the United States and Canada are using the traditional lecture model to teach science, mathematics and technology, according to a new study published in Science magazine. About 27% of classes had some levels of interactive instruction, such as technology-based question and answer modules, and 18% were described as "student-centered" in a survey of 2000 classrooms.
- The study's author says professors have to feel confident in knowing and utilizing new forms of teaching, which may be stunting the implementation of interactive models of instruction. “I think there is a growing awareness and recognition among the STEM professoriate of the benefits of active learning strategies on students’ learning and attitudes toward STEM,” said Marilyne Stains, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. “However, there are numerous factors that can preclude faculty from adopting these practices even if they recognize their value.”
- Previous surveys indicate that some professors believe class size and layout as key factors in interactivity and engagement with the curriculum.
Recent studies indicate that flipping the classroom is a growing innovation among college professors, but that it also requires patience and time for faculty to get used to the model of instruction, and for it to work effectively with students. As with most efforts to get large organizations to do something different, it also requires mandates from high levels of supervision, such as a dean or a provost, to encourage the deliberate use of new practices.
One way that leaders can encourage use is to share the benefits of such a revamped approach to instruction. Sharing data, planning around demonstrated best practices is an effective way to show professors that new methods are best to help in educating student bodies with more choices, less ability to pay attention, and more demands for their needs to be met. And offering professional development centered around the idea of student success is also key.
If professors can see the ties between teaching innovation, retention, graduation rates and preparedness for the workforce, its much easier to integrate these changes in the classroom, and to show them as examples of excellence for tenure and promotion later on.
- Inside Higher Ed Lecture Instruction: Alive and not so well