1887

Letter to the Editor

    Authors: Elise N. Griswold1, Daniel J. Klionsky2
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    Affiliations: 1: Ypsilanti, MI, http://elisegriswold.blogspot.com; 2: Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, klionsky@umich.edu
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2015
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 5-5. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.910
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    Abstract:

    Often, when I describe the use of an active-learning approach (1–3), my colleagues ask what size class is appropriate for this format. One of us has used this method in a class of over 200 students, but we would use the same format no matter what the class size. We think active learning is better than lecturing even for very large classes; the details of how the class is run might have to vary (e.g., how groups are formed), but otherwise it would be the same. When thinking about the effectiveness—or lack thereof—of lecturing, especially in a very large class, an anecdote by the late Neil A. Campbell, the author of a very popular introductory biology textbook, comes to mind. To paraphrase, Neil was giving a lecture to a large class and became concerned because no one seemed to be following what he was saying. Then it occurred to him that the problem might be that no one could hear him, as he was not using a microphone. So, he paused, faced the class and asked, “Is there anyone who cannot hear what I am saying?” A young man at the very back of the room stood up and shouted back, “Yeah, I haven’t been able to hear a single thing you’ve said.” At that point, a young woman in the front row stood up, turned around and replied to her classmate, “I’ll trade places with you!”

References & Citations

1. Klionsky DJ1998A cooperative learning approach to teaching introductory biologyJ Coll Sci Teach275334338
2. Klionsky DJ2001Constructing knowledge in the lecture hallJ Coll Sci Teach314246251
3. Klionsky DJ2004Talking biology: teaching outside the textbook, and the lectureCell Biol Ed3420421110.1187/cbe.04-07-0055 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.04-07-0055
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2015-05-01
2017-09-21

Abstract:

Often, when I describe the use of an active-learning approach (1–3), my colleagues ask what size class is appropriate for this format. One of us has used this method in a class of over 200 students, but we would use the same format no matter what the class size. We think active learning is better than lecturing even for very large classes; the details of how the class is run might have to vary (e.g., how groups are formed), but otherwise it would be the same. When thinking about the effectiveness—or lack thereof—of lecturing, especially in a very large class, an anecdote by the late Neil A. Campbell, the author of a very popular introductory biology textbook, comes to mind. To paraphrase, Neil was giving a lecture to a large class and became concerned because no one seemed to be following what he was saying. Then it occurred to him that the problem might be that no one could hear him, as he was not using a microphone. So, he paused, faced the class and asked, “Is there anyone who cannot hear what I am saying?” A young man at the very back of the room stood up and shouted back, “Yeah, I haven’t been able to hear a single thing you’ve said.” At that point, a young woman in the front row stood up, turned around and replied to her classmate, “I’ll trade places with you!”

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FIGURE 1.

How effective are lectures in the context of large, overcrowded classrooms?

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 5-5. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.910
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