<< Reading the postings over the last few days there appears to be a schism developing between "lecturing" and "co-operative learning". Need this split develop? I don't consider it necessary to divide into one group or the other. I believe that "lecturing" can be encompassed into the "co-operative learning" model. At the commencement of each session all that Ben Preddy lists can be included (albeit in a "not too long" monologue) as an introduction.>>
I believe that what he is describing is not really what I consider a lecture. A lecture is the presentation of material by the teacher with the students listening and taking notes or what ever else they do. An interactive lecture has the teacher asking questions and leading the class through some line of reasoning or problem solving. This is a step up from a 50 minute lecture but the focus is still on the teacher as the source of correct information. In the group process it is very helpful for the teacher to bring the class back together to focus on a particular problem or question through an interactive approach (a mini lecture) or by asking the groups to explain their ideas or rationale. Other groups can observe or comment or even discuss or argue their points. It is marvelous to see students debating mathematical problems just like they would debate politics or art or peotry. If this process is used then the teacher becomes the facilitator and even participant rather than expert on high. Imagine the teacher being viewed as a peer versus controller. It takes a lot of confidence to put yourself in that position. I can tell you also that students resist this too. They think they want to be told what to do. Then they go home and wonder why they can't repeat what I did in a lecture in class. I rarely get that response when we work togewther in class and they resolve issues before they try the homework. I get the feeling that some people who favor the lecture approach misunderstand group learning and presume it is anarchy with the teacher left out of the picture. A effective group process has the instructor deeply involved in every part of the process but is a more subtle fashion. It takes a lot of preparation to work up group exercizes and then to facilitate them. Also you cannot do the exact same thing every class or as someone mentioned students will become bored with that too. Part of the lure of group work is the idea that you will do different things in class. For example I do a class where we cannot talk. I use it to highlight the exponent rules. Students may write on the board, try sign language or anything else they can think of to show/explain how multiple operations with exponents work. First we do it in groups of 4-5 then we come back and try to go over some complicated problems on the board, by having individuals or more use non-verbal communication to explain problems. At first everyone is very hesitant and wary but as the class moves on they catch on to the visual nature of working with exponents and begin to have fun. By the end of the class everyone is quite tired because they are concentrating so hard, which is a byproduct conclusion of the lesson. Math takes greatr concentration and is physically tiring. Most students do not realize this. I could lecture them on the need to be rested and well fed to do math effectively but it would not make an impression on them. This way they live through the experience and some tell me later they never forget how tirted they were. This brings people back to class to see what is going to happen next time. If we don't do anything unusual they are still happy to work with their friends and wait for the next special exercize. I am not bragging when I say that they tell me their algebra class is their favorite and they actually look forward to coming to a math class. I take only 33% credit the process gets the rest.