Investigating the lecture experience: A critical comparison of lecturer and students’ perspectives

Rachel Bromnick

In this empirical qualitative research we aim to explore the perception of lectures from the point of view of students and teaching staff. We aim to identify common ground as well as explore where critical differences may lie. We hope in doing so to gain insight into the lecture experience and determine areas that could be addressed to improve satisfaction and engagement from both sides of the lectern.
The lecture is undoubtedly the oldest and most well established basis for teaching and learning in Higher Education. Despite various criticisms about this mode of delivery, it has survived the test of time. The existing literature on the lecture experience tends to focus on two main aspects. For staff, research is orientated towards good pedagogical practice e.g. how to engage students within the lecture, for example in using digital technologies. For students, the focus is on practical tips e.g. how to take notes. Our proposed research moves away from this micro level analysis of the lecture experience and aims to explore the fundamental nature and purpose of lectures. In doing so, we aim to get right into the heart of what Higher Education is about. Our own anecdotal evidence suggests that there could be an important mis-match between what lecturers and what students see as the purpose of lectures, but a systematic research led understanding is missing. The key research questions we will ask our participants include: What do you think the point of a lecture is? What should a student gain from a lecture? What are the characteristics of a good lecture? What are the characteristics of a bad lecture?
We will use group interviews, with staff and students surveyed separately. Group size will consist of approximately 3 people per group. Target sample size is 20 students and 10 lecturers. The groups will be facilitated by one of the research team members and audiotaped. They have some structure with guiding questions, similar to focus group methodology. Responses will be transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis, highlighting of points of difference between the two groups. The student participants will be sought by random selection, to avoid the potential bias from self-selection.