Active Learning vs. Lecturing in the College Classroom
by Paul T. Corrigan
One often hears of active learning as a new approach. In contrast, lecturing is the traditional method. Those who support active learning consider it an innovation. Those who do not consider it “another in a long line of educational fads,” as Michael Prince notes. The sequence and chronology remain undisputed either way. Lecturing came first. It has always been with us. Active learning came later. It has been on the scene for a relatively short time.
Even one as well informed as Wilbert McKeachie calls lecturing “probably the oldest teaching method.” Similarly, while Marilyn Page declares active learning “not a new concept,” she goes on to date it only as far back as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Dewey. Time and again in her dissertation on the history of active learning, she explicitly describes it in terms of a “rejection of traditional teaching methods.”
I think these common ways of talking about active learning and lecturing constitute a historical and rhetorical misstep. That is, saying that lecturing precedes active learning is not accurate and does not frame the discussion productively.
If we are talking about the two as philosophies and movements,
Short URL: http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=6273