Asee peer logo

Why Do We Lecture?

Download Paper |


2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Improving Statics and Dynamics Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1318.1 - 7.1318.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Richard Gilbert

author page

Mark Maughmer

author page

Marilyn Barger

author page

Renata Engel

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 2368

Why Do We Lecture?

Marilyn Barger, Renata Engel, Richard Gilbert, Mark Maughmer Hillsborough Community College/ Penn State/ University of South Florida/ Penn State


Given the opportunities offered by present-day technology, there is a great deal of emphasis, if not pressure, on engineering faculty to make use of computers, the web, and technology classrooms in the educational process. In this environment, the role of the traditional lecture is often brought into question. While it is agreed that “technology in the classroom” is here to stay and even has an important educational role to play, it is equally certain that the traditional lecture, decorated with various high-tech teaching tools, should be an important part in the educational process. Books, the first great lecture replacement technology, have been around for over a thousand years, but with the possible exception of Ph.D. students during the dissertation phase of training, educators have never thrown them at students and expected effective learning to take place. Why is this? Why is the lecture still the stalwart of educational methodologies? The answer is the motivation for lecturing face-to-face.

We do not lecture primarily to transfer the information that already exists in books and is now on the web. Rather, we lecture to inspire, motivate, and allow students into our heads to see how we think and approach new problems. We lecture so that we can stay connected to our audience in real time. These aspects of the tradition al lecture cannot be easily replaced and they provide the answer to the question of why most student still prefer to “go to class” whenever that is a viable option.


The lecture, taken here to be a more or less continuous exposition by the teacher, 1 has long been considered the standard method of teaching at the university level. 2, 3 In recent years, however, it has been the focus of much criticism. It is argued that the lecture method allows, if not forces, students to be passive and uninvolved rather than encouraging them to interact with the material, the teacher, and their fellow students. Critics stress that students retain more by participating in a discussion or other activities than by seeing and hearing. 4 Still, when the main criterion is the acquisition of information, the lecture is as effective as reading, inquiry, discussion, audio and computer assisted methods. 5

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

Main Menu

Gilbert, R., & Maughmer, M., & Barger, M., & Engel, R. (2002, June), Why Do We Lecture? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10536

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2002 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015