One teacher in front of hundreds of students is not enough to expand your knowledge.
If you sit in the last row at the top of a lecture hall of a hundred people and look around at your classmates, you may or may not be shocked at your observations. I predict you’ll see lots of online shopping, homework for other courses, 2048 games, and maybe a few students actually taking notes or following along with the presentation. I am one to admit my faults, but lecture halls are just not conducive for me to actually learn and absorb new materials in a class.
In the long run, while convenient, forcing students to take important classes in large lecture halls ends up deskilling them in the long run. They are forced to take on a lot of the teaching themselves, only furthering the attempts to find shortcuts. With little access to help with one professor and maybe one teacher’s assistant, students are going to look to resources across the internet, Chegg being a prime example, to quickly complete assignments. Now, just because homework is turned in and quizzes or exams are passed does not mean students actually retained any of the material.
Memorization has become prioritized over true learning. We sit there in these huge rooms and have information thrown at us for an hour straight with little to no opportunity to ask real questions. Processing the course’s content has become less of a priority than actually passing the class.
One of the biggest downfalls of the lecture hall is the lacking student to teacher ratio. One professor with a hundred students is not conducive to a focused learning environment. Students are not given the opportunity to establish a connection with their teacher in order to be more comfortable asking questions and reaching out for help.
While it may seem obvious, the abandonment of lecture halls has not been widely taken up by many universities yet. There are other solutions that can be and have been implemented to encourage more engaging courses generally taught in large groups.
One option is the recitation classes. Offered here at Temple, recitations are usually much smaller groups of students with a TA going over materials taught in the larger lecture. These classes give students a TA to establish a relationship with students and answer questions that lectures may have left.
Smaller classes may sound like a simple solution, but it is important to note that more specialized classes get that luxury, but your general chemistry class has eighty people in it. Giving all students regardless of the advancement level should be given equal opportunity for a smaller class. If this means taking on more staff or adding more class periods, then so be it. Our education is valuable and we should receive the resources we deserve.
If a university feels it must keep large lecture halls, those classes should work to include engaging activities throughout the course. Movement and group work gives students the chance to bounce ideas and their knowledge of one another creating impactful discussion.
Lecture halls are probably here to stay in the college experience, so try your best to make the most of it. Go to your professor’s office hours with questions. Download their presentations on your own computer so that you can follow along during the class. Try to make a few friends that you can discuss the work with. Create a routine to work towards retaining content rather than memorizing. It is easier said than done, but we want to make the most out of the education we are paying so much for.