Science Lectures: A relic of the past?


E. Mazur. 1996. “Science Lectures: A relic of the past?” In Physics World, 9: Pp. 13–14.


In most introductory science courses we require the students to buy textbooks of encyclopedic dimensions and then we use lecture time to present what is printed in the text. We write the material on the blackboard and students copy it into their notebooks. If we are lucky they can follow the first fifteen minutes of lecture. If they lose the thread somewhere – and this is bound to happen sooner rather than later – note taking becomes completely blind: "I'll think about it later." Unfortunately the thinking is not always happening, and many students resort to memorization of the equations and algorithms copied in their notebooks. Many bad study habits are a direct result of the lecture system. I believe the days of straight lecturing in introductory science courses are numbered – we can no longer afford to ignore the inefficiency of the traditional lecture method, regardless of how lucid or inspiring our lectures are. The time has come to offer our students in introductory science classes more than a mere regurgitation of printed material.