Some participants referred to the lecture/seminar model as a programme norm, but when asked to reflect on their teaching practices, they rarely discussed their lecturing and focused instead on more interactive teaching. As one participant explained:

I remember from my experience of learning that actually, the bits when I really learned was when I was able to talk through ideas amongst the group and listen to other people, it wasn’t so much the lectures. I mean, the lectures are important. But actually, it wasn’t where my real learning took place. (Participant 6, Social sciences, Russell Group) 

For many, we might link here to their professional identities as ‘teachers’, often in contrast to the perceived devaluing of pedagogic expertise. We wonder whether seminar teaching might be construed as ‘proper teaching’ in contrast to negative portrayals of lecturing, such that participants may have perceived interactive teaching as a more socially desirable stance to share with us as researchers.

Many of our participants (17 out of 45, 38%) reflected on ‘chunking’ lectures rather than teaching didactically for long periods. This involved restricting the length of time they would lecture for and dividing this up into shorter ‘chunks’:

I break it down into small lecture chunks, maybe 10 or 15 minutes of me going through something, and then we would immediately go into a sort of discussion seminar based on that bit. So rather than a longer, sort of more formal hour-long seminar and then an hour-long lecture before in the week, they tend to be blended into one hundred minute session. (Participant 22, Language and area studies, Unaffiliated Post-1992)

The longest slot I’m doing is 20 minutes…but that’s very rare, I try to be shorter (Participant 31, Education and teaching, Russell Group)

I had to record …the 50 minute talk or lecture, which I don’t really like doing because it’s hard for the students to sit through that. …So I kind of chunked into three sections. (Participant 19, Language and area studies, Million+)

This was done to prioritise interactive learning opportunities. As the second quote indicates, participants were increasingly adopting this strategy in the transition to remote learning for recorded lectures during COVID-19 lockdowns, having identified the attentional challenges in watching an hour-long lecture. 

For some, the transition to emergency remote learning during COVID-19 forced a move to a more dialogic pedagogy: 

Before the virus, what I was planning to do for this module was put the lecture content up online, and the students would listen to that before the class. And then they would come into the class and we could have focused much more on the discussion. I could kind of draw out elements of the lecture that I thought could be looked at in more depth. So there’s an extent to which the force the move to online has allowed me to do that or forced me to do it, rather than just thinking about it and talking about it. … But actually, I think it’s good for the module. And, and so I will maintain a lot of what we’re doing this year, in future years, because I think it’s really helped. (Participant 6, Social sciences, Russell Group)

This suggests, as do other conversations, that some of the affordances of remote learning have been identified as having a lasting pedagogic impact on practices.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s