Tip #809: Fact or Fiction? Lecture is Best for Large Groups

“A one-size-fits-all lecture is not the way to go about education.” Sal Khan

Fiction. The size of the group has very little to do with the type of learning method. It all depends on the goals of the workshop. If the goal is simply to share knowledge (ideally knowledge unknown to the group participants), then a lecture is appropriate and sufficient. Unbroken lecture can only achieve the learning level of knowledge. However, if the goal is to teach new skills or change attitudes and achieve a higher learning levels: comprehension, application, analysis, evaluation or creation, then the learning method needs to be more participatory: directed large or small group discussion, pop ups, individual worksheets, brainstorming, problem solving, case studies, questionnaires, games, hands on, gallery walks, role plays, etc.

These more participatory learning activities may require that the group participants split out into dyads, triads, or small groups. The participants may need to talk with the people next to, in front of or behind them in creating these smaller groups (if seated in an auditorium or classroom style arrangement). Otherwise, it’s best that the participants be seated at tables that accommodate 5-7 to make it easier for them to communicate and collaborate during the activities.

It may not be possible, given time constraints, to observe or debrief each group’s answers or results. Instead, calling for volunteer reports or using signaled answers may be the most appropriate approach to determine if the desired goal has been achieved.

May your learning be sweet.


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