Lecturers and Cognitive Overload

There has been a lot of discussion over the place of lecturer in the classroom, especially in the digital age, when there are so many other possible learning activities that are available due to technology. One thing that we need to remember is that not all lectures are the same; lecturing and can vary in how engaging and useful it is to students. Students themselves have been found to strongly correlate lecturing with their own perception of learning: this definitely is a fact that has pluses and minuses. Research has found that students show a high preference for the hybrid environment compared to the online learning environment, and a lot of that is due to a preference for face-to-face interaction with the instructor, lecturing being a large aspect of that.

In my practice as an science educator at the high school level, I did use lecturing as a way to convey information, such as at the beginning of unit, to provide detailed instructions for another activity, and modelling activities that students are supposed to do by themselves. I found that lectures could be engaging and useful to students, by providing the opportunity to initiate discussions, allowing students to pose their own questions, to share interesting information, and demonstrate things that were not possible for students to do by themselves. I always did keep in mind that lectures just needed to be no more than 20 minutes, should not replace a more engaging or collaborative activity, and should include discussion and a time for students to pose their own questions. I definitely tried to avoid the sage on the stage type of lectures at cause a cognitive overload because they provide too much new information at one time, and to not allow students to form understanding during the process. 

We live in an age where practically all the information known to man is available digitally, at our fingertips. The role of the instructor, therefore, has to change from the one who provides information, to a coach and guide in the learning process. I would like students to be able to work collaboratively to research information, evaluate it, synthesize their own knowledge, and then share the information with the rest of the class.  This would be better than a lecture because they would develop the skills to find and evaluate information and not just depend on being given information. 

There are also now so many other ways to involve students in the lecturing process by using technology that allows students to participate in the process such as Peardeck, Menti and Google Suite documents that can be synchronously collaborated on. Lectures can also be used in flipped classroom activities, because they are easily recorded and viewable at home by students, saving classroom time for more interactive and collaborative activities. many educators are also finding that instead of recording themselves for flipped classroom lectures, they can use videos of experts on the subjects. This can often be more engaging to students, and free up the time of the instructor for further building their relationships with students and innovating their practice.


EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. (2015, December). [Infographic the the 2015 student and faculty studies from the EDUCAUSE Technology Research in the Academic Community research series]. 2015 Study of Students/Faculty and IT. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2015/8/eig1510.pdf?la=en

EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. (2016, July). [Infographic the the 2016 student study from the EDUCAUSE Technology Research in the Academic Community research series]. 2016 Students and Technology Research Study. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2016/10/eig1605.pdf


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