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Teaching Excellence Program

Should we lose the lecture?

Date: 12:40pm - 1:40pm PDT April 5, 2017 Location: JR Howard Hall 302

JR Howard Hall 302

Should we lose the lecture? 
Nobel Prize winning physicist and US Professor of the Year, Carl Wieman, is known as a vocal proponent of “flipping” the classroom, where hands-on learning replaces time spent on lectures. Dr. Wieman conducted an experiment (published in 2011 in the journal Science) where students were randomly assigned either to hear Wieman’s (award-winning!) lectures or to attend class with a postdoc & graduate student who supervised the students in small group work and hands-on problem solving. The results demonstrated that “the postdoc-grad student team saw better attendance, strong reviews and, most impressively, a wholesale jump in performance (Scott, 2017).” These findings reinforced Wieman’s efforts to persuade faculty (especially in the STEM fields) to lose the lecture. To learn more about Wieman’s experiences and recommendations, take a look at Sam Scott’s profile of Wieman’s work in the March edition of Stanford Magazine.
But before you go about ditching the lecture entirely, consider the challenges associated with active learning, especially for students with learning differences. According to a recent post by Professor Fernando Gonzalez, For Some, Active Learning Can Be a Nightmare. More specifically, he argues that for students with learning disabilities, “an active learning activity not only may result in a failing grade for the activity but can also isolate them from the rest of the class. Those students’ inability to participate may leave them embarrassed, discouraged, and at greater risk of dropping out of the program.” To help us sort through the benefits and drawbacks of active learning for students with learning differences, Rachel Orlansky and Eileen Dowty from Student Support Services will be joining us at this Wednesday’s conversation.

Questions to consider: 

-How often do you lecture in your classes? How often do you engage your students in hands-on/active learning (or flipped classrooms)?

-To what extent do you see yourself as a “coach” (as advocated by Dr. Wieman) when you are teaching?

-What are some of the reasons why you continue to lecture (as many of us do)? What are some of the barriers to changing the way you teach?

-Have you encountered students who have had difficulty with active learning approaches? What was that experience like?

Although an RSVP is not required, a rough ​headcount is always appreciated. If you plan to attend, please send a quick email to or RSVP below. 

Please feel free to bring your own lunch. Coffee, tea, and cookies will be provided. This semester’s final TEP pedagogy lunch will take place on Tuesday (4/18) at 1pm.


Are you trying to register for the April 18th TEP lunch? Please visit the event page.
Registration for this event is now closed.