Bligh, in What's the Use of Lectures? argues that lectures "represent a conception of education in which teachers who know give knowledge to students who do not and are therefore supposed to have nothing worth contributing." Based on his review of numerous studies, he concludes that lecturing is as effective, but not more effective, as any other teaching method in transmitting information. Nevertheless, lecturing is not the most effective method for promoting student thought, changing attitudes, or teaching behavioral skills. Bligh summarises research on memory to show the significance of the meaningfulness of material on retention (Marks and Miller 1964) and the importance of immediate rehearsal of information (Bassey 1968). He relates his own research on arousal during lectures to suggest a decrement in attention during the first 25 minutes. Lloyd (1968) and Scerbo et al. (1992) showed that students take less and less notes as lectures proceed. Bligh shows that after a short break filled by buzz group discussion, attention will recover somewhat. The largest section of Bligh's book is devoted to lecturing technique, particularly the organisation of lectures, how to make a point, the effectiveness of taking notes, the use of handouts and ways of obtaining feedback. Early editions of the book contained a reply paid evaluation card. This research showed that the section on alternative teaching methods within lectures was the most highly praised.
The conception of the lecture as needing to be a didactic event has been challenged by Meltzer and Manivannan (2002) and Sandry (2005) who maintain that lectures can involve active learning. However, Elliot (2005) sees difficulties in the encouragement of active learning with phenomena such as social loafing and evaluation apprehension causing audience member to be reluctant to participate. A possible solution to the encouragement of audience involvement in lectures is the use of an audience response system which allows audience members to participate anonymously.
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