(From Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom by D. W. Johnson, R. T. Johnson, and K. Smith, Interaction Book Company, 1991, p. 5:1-5:9)


  • can communicate large amount of material efficiently can be used to supplement or elaborate curriculum good if material has to be organized or presented in a particular way
  • can provide introduction to unfamiliar area
  • very efficient for expert-to-expert transmission
  • can be used to present material not available elsewhere or hard to discover because of originality, complexity, or difficulty
  • can be used to arouse interest in the subject
  • is effective if lectures are skillfully delivered, with clear, enthusiastic, modulated voice, good eye contact, and appropriate gestures
  • good mainly for auditory learners


  • student attention wanders periodically and decays with time, starting at about 10 minutes into the lecture
  • tends to promote lower-level learning of factual information
  • makes unwarranted assumption that all students need same information, presented orally at the same pace, impersonally and without dialogue with the presenter; have high memory capacity, have same prior knowledge, good note-taking strategies and skills, and are not susceptible to information-processing overload
  • students tend not to like it
  • entertaining and clear lectures can mislead listener about the complexity of material being presented.


  • preoccupation with outside affairs
  • emotional moods of listener
  • disinterest in material failure to understand
  • feelings of isolation and alienation from others

The list of advantages should be used to decide when to use the lecture as a teaching mode. If you feel that the content would benefit from giving lecture, the next stage is to take steps to combat the problems and enemies of the lecture. Some suggestions for doing so can be found by going back to here.