I think that lectures are a critical part of the learning process for students. It is a superb starting point for learning a new skill from an “expert”. Robert Talbert explains what lectures are ideal for in his article, “Four things lecture is good for.” I have to agree that when I am new to learning something, I would like to have someone to show me the ropes. It allows me to try and understand the perspective of an expert, and eventually develop my own perspective.
There have been times when I try to get ahead in my classes by reading the textbook to cover the information. However, most of those attempts have been unsuccessful because I have a very hard time understanding the material and relating it back to the real world. The best lecture based courses that I have taken are course that are taught by professors that has real world experiences. They are able to take the engineering theory that they are teaching and correlates it to how they themselves have applied it to various problems. They shared their insights on when it is applicable to use certain theories, assumptions, and techniques to solve certain problem. In a sense, they are sharing their expertise on recognizing what type of problem are at hand and what tools are the most effective at developing a solution.
Once the fundamental knowledge is transferred to the student, the learning structure has to change in order to allow the student to continue developing the skill. There is a balance between learning from an expert and practicing the skills to become better at it. Here is an interesting video about how develop a skill in 20 hours.
This video gives a prime example of how if a person wants to learn to throw a football, they would first have to learn the basic techniques. They will have to learn about the football size, grip positions, body position, and etc. This information would be most effectively covered in a lecture environment. Once an individual has a good understanding of the fundamental, then they have to apply and practice that skills. As the person is gaining more experience, more questions began to arise. As the questions arise, it is time to revert back to consulting the experts.
I personally feel that there has to be a balance between the difference styles of teaching. For me personally, I learn the best by struggling and experiencing what I have learned. Once I struggle to a certain point I began developing questions to seek mentorship from others. But I find it very hard to understand what others tell me if I have not personally experience it.