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Replacing Traditional Lectures

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Traditional lectures have long been part of our educational system. They present facts and information in a concise and direct manner, yet, according to some studies, they are inferior to more active teaching methods when it comes to a student’s performance and practical skills. In spite of this, lectures continue to be a large part of most college’s curriculum, were, albeit not used all of the time, still contribute to a big portion of what is being done in class. This presents a critical problem in Computer Science courses, where active solution seeking and team work play an important role in the student’s career. Although courses usually combine lectures with other active-learning activities (such as labs), the time spent in lectures could still be used to nourish the aforementioned skills. This paper compares lectures to two alternatives methods: Cooperative Learning and Practical Problem-Based Learning, and explains why any of them proves superior to the didactic lecture. The Cooperative Learning method—proposed and evaluated by Leland Beck and Alexander Chizhik—relies heavily on teamwork while the Practical Problem-Based Learning method—which effectiveness’ was measured by Barg et al.—relies more on self-discovery. This paper then tries to explain why such substitution would benefit students in Computer Science I courses and the importance of at least testing their efficiency in different classrooms. Being a Computer Science I student who is almost done with the course, I will provide some personal input as well.
Before explaining their shortcomings, it is important to note the advantages of using lectures. Having being used for a long time, lectures are one of the most traditional ways of teaching. Their positive character...

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...exander Chizhik. “Cooperative Learning Instructional Methods for CS1: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation.” Trans. Comput. Educ. 13.3 (2013): 10:1–10:21. ACM Digital Library. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
Grissom, Scott. “Introduction to Special Issue on Alternatives to Lecture in the Computer Science Classroom.” Trans. Comput. Educ. 13.3 (2013): 9:1–9:5. ACM Digital Library. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
Hake, Richard R. “Interactive-Engagement versus Traditional Methods: A Six-Thousand-Student Survey of Mechanics Test Data for Introductory Physics Courses.” American Journal of Physics 66.1 (1998): 64–74. scitation.aip.org. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
O’Grady, Michael J. “Practical Problem-Based Learning in Computing Education.” Trans. Comput. Educ. 12.3 (2012): 10:1–10:16. ACM Digital Library. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
Powell, Kendall. “Spare Me the Lecture.” Nature 425.6955 (2003): 234–236. Print.
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