The Compleat Lecturer – or, the quintessence of traditional lecturing
Bruce G Charlton
Professor Bruce G CharltonSchool of Psychology
The primacy of lectures in providing a framework of knowledge and understanding for most students in most types of undergraduate-level study has been recognized in universities and colleges for many hundreds of years; and nothing substantive has happened to challenge this primacy. I set-out a plausible rationale for the effectiveness of lecturing, based upon assumptions regarding human nature and evolved psychology. Then, based upon this framework, I discuss some principles of good lecturing; with reference to the lecturer’s art and craft, implications for design of courses and lecture theatres, and the responsibilities of teaching administrators and the lecture audience. My conclusion is that – properly done – lecturing is potentially a first-rate method of teaching; rewarding both for lecturer and lectured-to. And, if there is a single word that encapsulates the essence of that in which lectures excel; the word is ‘explaining’.
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