Lecturing Is Ineffective And Senseless, Study Says

Undergraduate students in classes who are taught with traditional lecture-style are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students who are taught with active learning methods.

ecturing Is Ineffective And Senseless, Study Says

Hate lectures? There’s an absolute reason for that – they’re not just boring, they’re ineffective, too. According to a new study, undergraduate students in classes who are taught with traditional lecture-style are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students who are taught with active learning methods.

Based on the analysis of 225 studies of undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ) teaching methods, Scott Freeman, who is the lead author of the research and biologist at the University of Washington, concluded that the technique of teaching that turned students into active participants reduced failure rates and improved exam performance enough to change grades by half a letter or more. Also, 55 percent more students fail lecture-based courses than classes with at least some active leaning.

The meta-analysis is being published atย Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“If you have a course with 100 students signed up, about 34 fail if they get lectured to but only 22 fail if they do active learning, according to our analysis,” Freeman said. “We’ve got to stop killing student performance and interest in science by lecturing and instead help them think like scientists.”

You don’t spendย 100 grand a year in college to get lectured at, if they are going to do so, then you should opt for distant learning program or online course, which is way economical and affordable.

So what do you think about Freeman’s statement? We know active learning is effective and advantageous, do you think it’s likely to completely kill the lecture (Yes! We knowย lecturing is ineffective)?


  1. This is a great article, I read all of it and retained it. NOW, if you would’ve lectured about it, I’d probably be catching some zzZZzZzZz’s right about now. Haha, thanks for the share, it’s nice when science matches up with our personal experience!
    – Zachary from

  2. It’s a slightly different field, but Zoltan Dornyei is doing a lot of very interesting work on the way motivation works in students. You might want to look into “future selves.”

  3. Reblogged this on Style down South and commented:
    As a recent college graduate this does not surprise me at all.

  4. Reblogged this on Presto Medico and commented:
    This probably doesn’t come as groundbreaking research that shocks everyone. Lectures are long, tedious, and more often than not: monotonous. The human attention span is debated to last anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes — anything longer and we begin to zone out the droning voice at the front of the room. Regardless, since we need to be good students, we scribble down anything that seems remotely important and might show up somewhere again. Though it’s not an effective style of presentation, teaching 60-600 kids in one setting would be very difficult to achieve via active learning methods. I think multiple 50 minute lectures throughout the week (or day, with breaks in between) would be much more effective than holding one 1.5-3 hour lecture once a week.

  5. I think a lot depends on the quality of the lecturer. I’ve had some teachers who gave amazing lectures that turned boring subjects into something interesting, and I’ve had other teachers who took really interesting subjects and made them as boring as… well… lectures.

    1. Yeah, Sir. I agree, but I think for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, active learning is a must; lectures won’t work for those subjects. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I took a TESOL course a couple of years ago (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and I learned very rapidly that to engage students and get them learning effectively, you couldn’t simply stand up and talk at them. You had to devise activites that involved whole class participation, working in groups/pairs and one to one. I can tell you, it works.

  7. Well of course science, math and technology students fail when lectured to. Those disciplines require active learning. I wish there had been a comparison done with language arts.

  8. I do think we learn in many different ways. Some people are listeners, some are visual and others are doers. Obviously one way doesn’t suit everyone. I do think interaction is vital.

    1. But theory won’t work for subjects like STEM. Pragmatic approach would be a good call for those subjects, they require interactions. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. All I can say is I’ve walked out of many lectures. Never a tutorial. It depends on the lecturer of course; how engaging they are and whether they bother reaching out to the audience. But all in all I do agree, makes a lot of sense …

    1. Rightly said, cos I still remember dozing off often in a particular lecturer’s class, no matter what time his class was.

    2. Also, depends on the subjects, STEM do require active learning (as quoted by Phil in the comment below). Arts, literature and other subjects-alike may only depend on the lecturers like you said.

  10. These findings should surprise no one. I sat in a lecture once where professor of psychology stated that no one could concentrate for longer than 40 minutes. The lwcturelastwd

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