Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

UBC Study Shows Students Learn More in Interactive Classes Than Lectures

UBC Student

A UBC student using a clicker during class. (Photo: Martin Dee, UBC)

A new study of some engineering students at UBC shows that interactive classes are better than lectures – no matter how charismatic your professor is.

UBC professor Carl Wieman (who is known for his renowned lecture style, a Nobel Prize and 30 years of teaching experience) pitted new-school interactive learning up against old-school lectures in a “learning contest.” Surprisingly, old school lost in a bit of a blow-out.

Two sections of an undergraduate physics course were taught by two different instructors. One group taught by traditional lectures (led by an charismatic instructor), the other taught in an interactive class. Shockingly, the students from the interactive group were shown to have learned twice as much.

“This is clearly more effective learning, everyone should be doing it,” said Wieman,

This makes one wonder how an average professor would stack up against new-school interactivity in the classroom. Wieman acknowledges he can’t compete – and he is President Obama’s associate director of science, won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics, and is known for his engaging lecture style.

Both groups of students were tested after each respective class to see who retained more knowledge. The interactive students scored an average of 74 per cent, compared to 41 per cent from the lecture students. Researchers say this means they did “more than twice as well,” as random guessing would score 23 per cent.

Schools mentioned: University of British Columbia

Ryan Leclaire
Author: Ryan Leclaire
Ryan has been writing for 7 years and has been featured in Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Cottage life.
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