chapter  1
42 Pages

The Lecture Method

The word “lecture” comes from the Latin lectare, which means “to read aloud.” Originally the lecture was an approach to transfer knowledge from experts to those who needed the information. Dating back at least to ancient Greeks and the art of rhetoric advocated by Aristotle in around the fourth century bc (Brown & Atkins, 1988), a lecture was the primary method of transmitting knowledge and information. Around the sixth century ad, scholars began to travel hundreds of miles to European monestaries to hear monks read a book aloud from a lecturn. As the monk would read, scholars would copy down the book verbatim (Exley & Dennick, 2004). This reliance on oral instruction became the foundation for teaching in the early universities. The lecture indeed was used as an instructional method in universities as early as the thirteenth and fourteen centuries. A lectern in the classroom replaced the pulpit, but the delivery method remained essentially the same as its religious origins. As colonial universities developed in America, their tutors also relied upon lecture as well as recitation for instruction (Thelin, 2011). The reliance on the lecture by university professors remained significant over time. As Garside (1996) suggests, “since the 1840s, the lecture method of instruction has been the primary method of teaching in the college classroom” (p. 212).