Dr Suzanne Young publishes research into preferred methods of lecture delivery

Does Lecture Format Matter? Exploring Student Preferences in Higher Education

Does lecture format matter? This is the question Dr Suzanne Young asked students a couple of years ago as innovative methods of lecture delivery were being introduced into undergraduate criminology modules. The study, conducted with Dr Helen Nichols (University of Lincoln) and Dr Ashley Cartwright (University of Huddersfield), aimed to explore student perceptions of lectures to assess whether there was any benefit in innovative modes of delivery over the traditional face-to-face lectures.  

The study looked at whether students had a preferred way of engaging in lectures, whether lecture format impacted on attendance, and sought to uncover what the benefits of each delivery format offered. 

Three modes of delivery were compared; traditional face-to-face lectures, pre-recorded lectures and live online lectures.

The research showed that there is no single preferred format for lectures, instead the relevance of what is taught, the flexibility of learning, and the interaction offered play a far bigger role in their engagement. Each mode of delivery has their own benefits that are highlighted in the publication. Face-to-face lectures enable students to meet with people and ask lecturers questions directly after. Pre-recorded lectures allowed students to work at their own pace and undertake the learning at times most suited to them. Live, synchronous lectures provided a flexible learning space where students could interact with the lecturer and each other. The study also found that attendance at lectures was most affected by personal circumstances rather than the format.  

The findings of the study are very timely with the move to online and blended learning for many undergraduate courses in 2020-21. The student preferences for flexible and interactive learning demonstrate that there are lots of benefits to online delivery. Designing learning that integrates the benefits of pre-recorded material with live interactions ensures that students have control over their learning, which will result in a positive student experience.  

Dr Young said “We hope the findings of the study bring to light what students enjoy most about lectures and showcase the benefits of offering alternative modes of delivery”. 

Read the study in full.