Why do we lecture?

Marilyn Barger, Renata Engel, Richard Gilbert, Mark Maughmer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


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 traditional 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10449-10453
Number of pages5
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2002
Event2002 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Vive L'ingenieur - Montreal, Que., Canada
Duration: Jun 16 2002Jun 19 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Why do we lecture?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this