Teaching Tip: To Lecture or Not to Lecture in Your OM Class
“There are purists among us who would say that we should never lecture,” writes Prof. Maryellen Weimer in Faculty Focus (Oct. 1, 2014). But as faculty, we bring expertise to learners–and having an expert around when you don’t know something can be very helpful. Do most teachers still talk too much? “They do,” says Weimer. Are lectures fraught with well-established impediments to learning? “They are,” she adds.
Are some kinds of content better explained by the instructor than discovered by the students? Is it complex content, like computing an X-bar chart or an R-squared value, that you know from previous experience often causes students to struggle? Can your explanation lay the foundation and set the parameters so that students can start dealing with content from a place that expedites understanding? Is a lecture the best way to clarify what students find confusing?
Should we use lectures when students don’t seem to care about the content, don’t think it’s interesting, or don’t think there’s any need to know it? A lecture where you imbue the content with spicy facts, intriguing questions, colorful business anecdotes, and relevant details can cultivate student interest. Teachers talking about how they connect to and with operations management, why they love it, and why they think everyone else ought to also can be very motivational.
Many faculty now agree that we shouldn’t use lecture as the default instructional method. But we need to decide when lecturing makes sense so that it’s a conscious, purposeful choice. Then there’s the matter of length for any given segment of your talk: perhaps mini-lectures, not lengthy expositions that take all or most of a class session. I have found that a 10-minute video, a short class exercise, or a breakout to analyze a one-page case makes the lecture portion of the class easier on both prof and student. Your thoughts?