Ineffective Lectures – The 200 words project

(continued from parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Anders Ericsson’s research on deliberate practice has been extensively in training elite athletes and musicians. But, what about in universities?

Nobel prize winning Physicist Carl Weiman from Stanford university collaborated with a Post Doc and a Graduate student from the University of British Columbia to experiment with redesigning a Physics course. Weiman believed that Professor centered lectures in universities have been ineffective for centuries and he has been on a quest to make things better.

For this course, Weiman and team focused on teaching skills versus disseminating knowledge. So, they redesigned the class to mimic a fast-paced athletic training session centered around the students. They broke a lecture down into various concepts. Each concept had a series of multiple choice questions that students answered in groups using clickers. They got immediate feedback followed by a short instructor led debrief and then moved to the next concept. The results? A 20 point improvement in attendance and a 15 point improvement in scores.

Weiman conducted the experimented both in UBC and the University of Boulder and both universities have begun redesigning courses to offer this format. How can we apply this in how we teach and learn?

Cognitive scientists have found that learning only happens when you have this intense engagement. It’s almost certainly the case that lectures have been ineffective for centuries. But now we’ve figured out a better way to teach” that makes students an active participant in the process. – Prof Carl Weiman


Source and thanks to: Peak by Anders Ericsson, Carl Weiman’s paper on the experiment, ScienceMag’s article
We’ve spent 6 weeks with Prof Ericsson’s work on deliberate practice. Next week will involve a final post providing what might seem like a counter point to his work (but isn’t – spoiler).. And what we might take away from all of this.