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Teaching Tip: Lecturing in Your OM Class

July 31, 2015

lecture“Research has long cast doubt on the use of lecture in education,” writes Faculty Focus (July 15, 2015). The book What’s the Use of Lecture? claims the biggest benefit of lecture is that it is an efficient means of reaching a large number of students in a single setting. Lectures convey information but they do little to promote thought or problem-solving abilities, or to change behavior. Despite the evidence about lecture’s weaknesses, 2/3-3/4 of faculty members continue to rely on it. As Harvard’s Derek Bok argues, though facts, theories, and concepts delivered in lecture have little value unless students can apply them to new situations, ask pertinent questions, make reasoned judgments, and arrive at meaningful conclusions. Another prof puts it this way: “You may have a lecture that works to get students to take a multiple choice test really effectively. But when you have a conversation with that student after your semester, they may not actually remember anything.”

Transforming a class, especially a large lecture class, isn’t easy–and the adjustments in an active learning class can be difficult for students, as well. Millennials have a deep fear of failure–and do not deal well with ambiguity. They like clean, firm solutions to OM problems–not thinking beyond a single “right answer.”  Students have grown accustomed to sitting passively in lectures, reviewing your notes or slides posted online, attending study sessions, cramming for exams, and moving on. Many resent having to take an active role in class. Even so, a common complaint is not that professors are too demanding but that they don’t hold firmly to deadlines and expectations.

What can Jay and I do to help?  Our Instructors Resource Manual provides classroom exercises for every topic. The Teaching Tips button on this blog provides more ideas for involving students. The 35 videos we made can be shown and lead to discussions in class. The OM in the News blogs provide current topics to share with your class each day so they feel there is practicality to OM. Perhaps you have an exercise you would like to share with colleagues. Just write to me ( and I will post it for everyone to read.


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