Answer to "Why lectures?"


Lectures are widely used as a cost effective method of teaching large classes of students and have been shown to be effective:

  • For knowledge transmission.  This is a common reason for giving a lecture but students may acquire knowledge more effectively using other approaches including books or e-learning programmes

  • To give an introduction to a difficult subject

  • To provide up-to-date or locally relevant information

  • To highlight the core content or threshold concepts relating to the subject

  • To summarise a topic

  • To stimulate student’s thinking

  • To help a student organise their thoughts and provide a structure for their learning

  • To demonstrate your passion for the subject and to improve or motivate the students interest in it


The effectiveness of a lecture as a learning experience depends on the quality of the lecturer.  There is the potential for either competent or incompetent teaching.



Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., Dipetro, M., Lovett, M., And Norman, M,. (2010). How Learning Works.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bligh, D.A. (1971).  What’s the use of lectures?  London, UK: Penguin.

Brown, G., And Manogue, M 2001.  AMEE Medical Education Guide No 22: Refreshing lecturing: a guide for lectures.  Med Teach. 23:231-244.

MacNeil, M.S. (2007).  Concept mapping as a means of course evaluations.  J Nursing Educ. 46:232-234.

McKeachie, W.J. (2006).  Mckeachie’s teaching tips: strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers. Belmont CA: Wadsworth.

McLeish, J. (1968).  The Lecture Method.  Cambridge: Cambridge Institute of Education.